Legacy Planning For Your Life’s Stories

Everyone leaves a legacy; it is not just for the rich and famous. That legacy extends far beyond your finances—your estate includes all assets of any value that you own. What will your legacy be?

Our goal for our clients as brokers is to help them create and execute a plan while still alive to distribute their estate how they wish after their death. But life doesn’t always leave you with the best-case scenario; after losing both parents, one younger sibling, both in-laws, and various other family members, I have learned the hard way that some things do not always work out the way the person hoped—even with planning and wills in place. My perspective has changed, and my goals for my own legacy planning have a new focus. My memories need a permanent home; they need FOREVER.com.

Something that has always been important to me, and was important to both of my parents, is tradition—family history, stories and documents, not to mention those valuable photos and videos. For most of my life I thought if I just saved hard copies of everything it would be there to pass on. Growing up, I did as my mother did: I put my favorite photos and memories into photo albums and scrapbooks. It became such a passion that 20 years ago I started helping others find solutions to their photo dilemma. I thought if I used the best quality products that were archival safe that my photos would be around for generations. But would they? I realized that I must be conscious of how those items are stored in order to guarantee they will be there for generations.

As technology advanced quicker than any of us anticipated, our media is dispersed across different pieces of history: Printed photos, slides, negatives, memory cards, flash drives, floppy disks, CDs, laptops, external hard drives, videos, documents, letters, journals, our cell phones, free or temporary cloud storage, social media—the list goes on.

It is imperative that these items are saved properly and organized in order to be shared now and into the future. The illusion of permanence is everywhere but, as we’ve seen, few things live up to the promise. For many baby boomers, we are at a stage in life where we want to scale things back, purge, and focus on the important things like creating plans for our legacies. But for most of us, terminology and the dozens of options out there for storage can be very confusing.

There is only one company that includes permanency in their financial plan: FOREVER. FOREVER’s promise is that you will pay once for FOREVER Storage® and own it for your lifetime +100 years, guaranteed. They will never data mine, advertise or sell your information. They will migrate your stored content to the latest formats over time. They will protect them for generations to come, ensuring that your legacy thrives.

Growing up in Louisiana, hurricanes were a part of life. Many disasters and accidents strike each day. Without a well thought out plan in place for protecting these one of a kind physical items, we not only have to deal with the aftermath of the disaster (fire, floods, robbery, computer crashes, deterioration, etc.) but with the emotional loss of losing these valuable items and our family history.

Having a strategy in place will help you gain peace of mind. The process should include organizing, digitizing and protecting these items. Once digitized, they need to be stored where they are safe permanently, securely, and privately.

When I was in college most of my family and friends attended “in state” colleges and universities. Being from New Orleans, it was exciting to go to LSU in Baton Rouge. However, today, the children and grandchildren of all our friends and family go to college all over the United States or beyond. They much prefer going out of state than staying close to home. Many of them never return to their hometown except for occasional visits. Our families are spread everywhere and seeing everyone for Sunday dinner at grandmother’s house is not the norm. In order to share our photos, family stories and documents, they need to be accessible to everyone wherever they are located. Organizing and digitizing everything is a great start. But then what? The obvious answer of where to store and how to best share is online in the cloud.

That’s when I first heard of Glen Meakem and his newest venture. His vision was to offer the only permanent digital home for family memories and to guarantee their safety for generations. I immediately signed up to attend their first national conference in Atlanta in the summer of 2015, and I became an Ambassador with the company. As a memory keeper himself, Glen Meakem understands why their mission matters. The slogan reads, “Save, Organize and Share Memories / Your Lifetime +100 Years Guaranteed.” It is like insurance for your photos.

With your FOREVER account you can quickly sync, back up, and upload your high-resolution files anywhere, anytime. You can organize and find files easily with tags, albums, descriptions and search. You can connect, share and collaborate with your friends and family in FOREVER. You can easily create beautiful photo books, cards and other archival quality photo gifts at the click of a mouse. Family and friends can set up a free trial account in order to view everything you want to share with them in your account wherever they are located. You select what you want to share and with whom and can keep whatever you want private. Your friends and family can even download from your account.

What type of files can be stored in your FOREVER account?

  • Images: .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif, .tiff, .tif, .webp
  • Videos: .mp4, .avi, .mov, .mpg, .mpeg, .wmv, .mkv, .m4v, .mts, .m2ts
  • Audio: .mp3, .m4a, .wma, .ra, .mka, .ac3, .aac, .ogg, .flac, .wav
  • Documents: pdf, completed Artisan® and FOREVER® Print projects

How can FOREVER make these guarantees? One of the things that intrigued me the most when I first heard about FOREVER was how they can guarantee their storage accounts. You own your account; this is not monthly rental. You pay a one-time fee for the amount of storage you need, and you can add to your account over time. When you purchase your account, a large percentage of your payment goes into a fund that earns money over time, called the FOREVER Guarantee Fund™. The fund is fully restricted by contract and invested in a long-term global portfolio.

Have you ever read the fine print with other cloud-based storage companies? Many can suspend or terminate your account at any time; data is usually deleted after death and non-transferable. Often you give up your digital rights when you upload without reading the terms and conditions. Even if you upload at full resolution, often they reduce the resolution because it is less expensive for them to store it and when you go to download it again the lower quality is reflected when you try to print the photo.

You own and maintain your FOREVER account and its contents. You can control who can view what parts of your account with comprehensive privacy settings. You decide how your content is preserved during your lifetime and after your death by assigning an Account Manager to administer your account into the future.

Your FOREVER account is mobile. You can access everything on your phone, laptop, tablet—anywhere you have internet access.

Since one of the first steps is to digitize outdated media, FOREVER offers one of the best in-house conversion services anywhere in the country with their white glove media conversion services. You can personally speak to someone at the conversion center which is located here in the United States. Many big box and small places ship their tapes to China or India. FOREVER’s pricing includes many “extras” that other services charge additionally for, such as removing the “heads and tails” of each video. That means there will not be 5 minutes of static at the beginning of your video or 3.5 hours of blank tape at the end.

Ultimately, there’s really no better option; begin by collecting outdated media and converting to digital format. Then, curate your digital files with guaranteed permanent storage so you can celebrate your memories by sharing with those you love. Sign up to join FOREVER now. Your legacy has already started—your insurance starts today.

Michel Levy Boudreaux, LUTCF, has been in the life insurance brokerage business for 42 years and is president of Mike Levy Associates, Inc., a family owned brokerage general agency in New Orleans, LA, that was started in the early 1950’s by her late father, Michel Levy, CLU, ChFC.

Boudreaux is a past president of NAIFA-Greater New Orleans and received that association’s distinguished member award, and is a charter member and past president of the National Brokerage Agencies, Inc. Boudreaux’s passion is memory keeping and she is her family’s historian; she is a FOREVER Qualified Ambassador and helps others with their photos and scrapbooks.

Boudreaux can be reached by telephone at 504-258-8388. Email: michelb504@gmail.com.