My grandpa, Dr. John Wesley Nance who I called “Papa,” was family physician in the small town of Clinton, NC. Papa made tremendous waves with his humble life. He loved his wife, he had 5 children (including my mama), he delivered over 3,000 babies, he taught his family how to sing together, and he left my grandmother well over 1 million dollars upon his death. In my mind, he is the epitome of the word “legacy.”


We believe in legacy here at Nancy Ray Photography. It’s the reason we capture marriages and families, and it’s the heart behind the Nancy Ray Shop, too. The letters he wrote to me and his other 10 grandchildren before he went to heaven are some of my most treasured possessions. I still sing his folk songs to my little girl as she falls asleep every night.

I’ll be the first to admit something that might be obvious to you:
You don’t have to do anything in particular in order to leave a legacy. The strongest legacy you will leave is not your stuff, your investments, or any assets. The strongest legacy you will leave is found in your faith, in your character, in who you are. Those are the things I love most about Papa.

With that said, there are some very practical things YOU CAN DO to enhance your legacy. You can take the time to organize important aspects of what you want to leave behind. You can have a will in place, you can write meaningful letters to your children, you can organize your photos, and you can organize your assets.

The more I think about it, the more I realize the amount of time Papa took to organize his legacy before he went to heaven. He took time to write us letters. He contributed to his retirement account steadily his entire life, so that he could leave an inheritance for my grandma and make her comfortable during her last days on earth. He prioritized family vacations
to the mountains. He captured and saved family photos. He prioritized, he planned, and he followed through… all while he was still living.

Here are 7 ways you can organize your legacy in 2017. Just like Papa, by planning ahead now, it will inevitably make your legacy stronger one day when you are gone. Some of these tasks will take longer than others, some might cost you some time or a little bit of money, but all of them will be worth it.

7 Ways to Organize your Legacy in 2017

1. Finalize a Will

“Dying without a will means you’ll have no say over who receives your property. In some states, only 1/2 of ones assets go to the surviving spouse… and if you have minor children, a judge will decide sho cares for them, and the situation may not be ideal.” –

2. Write Family Letters

Leaving a personalized message for your family like writing a letter or recording
a video will leave more of an impact than any possessions you leave behind. My grandfather typed the same “Growing up Lectures” letter on his typewriter to all of his grandchildren, made copies, then he hand-wrote our individual names on the top of each one. The letter was full of hope and encouragement and practical advice on life, and it’s one of my most treasured possessions.


3. Organize your Photos

Let’s be honest: most of us get completely overwhelmed by our personal photos, and they are out of control. Taking a month to Organize and Enjoy your personal photos this year will be freeing for you, and a gift that will keep on giving for your children and grandchildren.

4. Simplify your heirlooms

Search every single room in your home and attic for all the important heirlooms that have value to you. Bring everything into a big pile, and ask yourself, “Why am I keeping this?” Sell or give away the ones that don’t mean anything to you, and keep only your treasured possessions to pass on.


5. Implement a Filing System

Every home needs a good filing system. We have two systems: our short term Kitchen Files and our long term Personal Files. Our kitchen system is where all of our mail and important documents get sorted and placed immediately upon arrival. Our personal filing drawer is for storing bills, records, and important documents for longer than a year.

6. Clean out your home

Do you know what I want to do? I want to leave a clutter free home for my kids. I want to leave very few things for them: photos, jewelry, journals, property and money. That’s it. I want them to feel free to grieve and process without being burdened with so much stuff that it’s overwhelming. We have to realize that process starts NOW.

7. Organize your Investments

Depending on how many investments you have, this entire “to do” shouldn’t take you more than a few hours of your time, if that. It’s simply time to gather all your investment information and put it into one place for easy access! And if you haven’t begun to invest yet, THIS is the year for you to open an account!


I love some simple email reminders to help keep me on track. If you want to actually DO this, if you want to accept this challenge and really get organized THIS year, sign up below for some inspiring and practical emails to land in your inbox on the subject of Organizing your Legacy in 2017! We’ll cover all 7 steps mentioned here with a few more practical tips, as well as a few more legacy ideas to get you thinking.

If you’d like a more thorough, 12 month plan to Organize your Legacy this 2017, take some time to look into the 1 Year Guide to Organizing your Legacy in the Nancy Ray Shop!

Take the Legacy Challenge!

  • 8 Emails, Once a Week
  • Practical Tips and Resources
  • To Do Lists
  • A Game Plan for your Legacy!
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Wow, Excellent post. Its really beautiful.Thanks for your nice post.

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I’m looking forward to this challenge, particularly the part about finalizing a will. My husband and I do not have a will currently, and feel clueless as how to go about creating one. This will be super helpful!

Thank you for doing this challenge! Organizing my legacy is one of my goals for this year. I already have your legacy guide but I look forward to the extra push to keep this goal front and center this year.

We are so glad you are here!

Welcome to the NRP Blog! Enjoy getting to know our hearts and our work. We are so grateful you stopped by!