What Legacy Are You Leaving Behind?

March 8, 2021

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” 

- Pericles

We are all going to die someday.

While that may sound morbid, it’s also a reality.

And because we’re all adults here, Part 2 of our 3-part Spring Cleaning series this year is all about making arrangements for our final mess.

Click here for Part 1 of our series, which is all about cleaning up your business operations.


Facing one’s mortality might seem like a bummer, but it’s also a universal reality.

It’s not just for other people. You, too, will die one day.

Death is universal, but what’s unique to each human is our STUFF.

You and I and everyone else we know have accumulated stuff during our lifetimes, and that stuff will need to be handled by someone when we check out for good.

Some of us accumulate a little stuff, and some of us accumulate a LOT of stuff.

Failing to plan accordingly doesn’t buy you more time here. Death is equal-opportunity, and it will happen whether you’ve got your ducks in a row or not.


If you don’t make plans for your stuff after you’re gone, your family and/or friends will have to do it for you.

I can’t stress this enough—don’t make the people you love clean up after you.

You wouldn’t stay for weeks in someone’s home and leave behind a trashed guest room—or at least, I hope you wouldn’t.

So it’s imperative that we all grasp this concept—doing nothing still creates a legacy.

Is this the one you want to leave behind?

Without torturing yourself, take a few minutes and consider how you want to be remembered.

As the person who, through procrastination or some other form of self-delusion, burdened everyone with your stuff while they were also grieving? 

Or as the thoughtful, responsible adult who made the necessary arrangements well in advance so others wouldn’t have to?

Please be conscious about the choices you’re making … or NOT making … and their downstream impact.

Maybe YOU are okay with deferring decisions and living out at least one of your 200 Lies about how much time you have left and your big plans for “someday.” 

But do you really want to burden your kids (or even strangers) with sorting through all your stuff after you’re gone?

The things you do matter, and they resonate beyond your lifetime.


Estate planning isn’t the most fun thing we cover in The Unstuff Your Life System®, but it’s one of the most impactful because it touches the most lives.

So take a moment today—even 5 minutes after you’re done reading this post—to schedule time on your calendar for planning your estate.

If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry. I’ll share my best estate planning tips in an upcoming post. For now, let’s at least get it on your calendar so you are ready to take action.

And there are still things you can start thinking about now. 

Things like:

  • Who do you trust with a spare set of keys or the password to your computer? In other words: who will get the “tour” of your life, when the inevitable happens?
  • Who should inherit your assets?
  • Is there a plan in place for any debt you’ve accumulated? Does life insurance cover that? If so, where are the policy details?
  • What medical arrangements should be made if you’re unable to participate in a conversation about your care?
  • Have you made any funeral arrangements? If so, does anyone know where to find the details?

Pull together any documents you DO have ready and start to create a file.

And that’s a great start! 

In as few as 5 minutes, you can begin to pull together some papers and think through your legacy. 

That’s all it takes to move the needle forward, for now—you’re not finished, but one step at a time, you’ll get there.


None of us know when or how we’ll leave this world for good.

And because you don’t know when you’ll leave, you’re almost guaranteed to leave a mess if you aren’t proactive.

Think about the legacy—and the potential mess—you’ll leave behind, and be proactive in handling it.

Find a close family member or friend to share some key details with, and take them on the “tour” of your life.

Don’t wait for a magic window of time to start your post-mortem planning. Trust me—it doesn’t get any more enjoyable if you wait.
While you’re at it, why not tackle your digital clutter once and for all? Check out my 90-minute masterclass on Mastering Your Digital Life, which is all about organizing your digital filing cabinet and email inbox.

Declutter Your Life Podcast by Andrew Mellen. Available on iTunes!