Mark your calendars: January 28 is International LEGO day, which celebrates the date when the patent for the globally famous plastic brick system was filed.
Since the 1940s, people have been creating their own worlds, brick by brick, with LEGOs. With an estate plan, you can help your loved ones build a great future. Make your estate plan as specific as you want by providing step-by-step instructions for how you want them to honor your legacy. Or give them the resources to bring their vision to life, no strings attached.
Either way, an estate plan—like LEGOs—makes a great gift that can be enjoyed by generations to come.
January 28 and LEGOs
The history of LEGOs began in 1932, when carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen began making wooden toys in his shop. In 1936, he named his company LEGO, combining the words in the Danish phrase leg godt, meaning “play well.”
Following World War II, the availability of plastics in Denmark changed the company’s trajectory. Christiansen purchased a plastic injection molding machine and, inspired by interlocking plastic bricks produced by a competitor, he launched the forerunner of modern LEGO bricks in 1949, calling them Automatic Binding Bricks.
But it was not until 1954 that Christiansen had the aha moment that would make LEGOs world-famous. Until then, his plastic bricks were seen as more of a stacking toy than a system that allowed every brick to fit together and be used in multiple ways. During a business trip to the United Kingdom, a serendipitous conversation with a toy department manager provided the spark that led Christiansen to produce the first LEGO system in 1955.
Customers complained, however, that models built from the plastic brick system lacked stability and clutch power. Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, who had taken over day-to-day operations from his father, hit on the idea of a coupling principle that used a three-tube design.
The LEGO Group filed a patent for the new building system on January 28, 1958. This design unlocked the LEGO building blocks that are known and loved to this day for their endless building possibilities.
Draw Inspiration from LEGOs for Your Estate Plan
International LEGO day honors the legacies of the Danish father and son whose passion and creativity spawned one of the best-selling toy lines of all time. The system approach to LEGOs has made it infinitely upgradeable, able to piggyback on changing tastes while remaining timeless.
LEGOs can inspire not only hobby builders but also estate planners. Like LEGO sets, estate plans can be built in any way imaginable. If you can dream it, you can build it with an estate plan that customizes your legacy and lays down generational building blocks.
Here are a few estate planning ideas from popular LEGO sets.
For many families, memories are rooted in the places they call home. As children move away and families spread out geographically, there may be a special place, such as a grandparents’ home or a vacation home, that everyone returns to for holidays, family reunions, and other special occasions.
Passing down a home can keep it in the family, ensuring that new memories are made and old ones are kept alive. There are several ways to leave your home to loved ones, including through a will, co-ownership, a trust, a transfer-on-death deed, or a limited liability company in some states.
Because the family may not want to deal with maintaining and upkeeping the home, an alternative is to leave a monetary gift that the beneficiary can use to purchase a new house. Everyone has a different idea of what their “castle” looks like. It could be an alpine lodge, a suburban family house in the brick colonial style from Home Alone, or a tiny home for the intrepid minimalist.
Among younger generations, there is an emphasis on spending time and money on experiences rather than amassing material goods. An Eventbrite survey found that nearly 80 percent of millennials would choose to spend money on an experience over buying an object they desired.
Travel is a major part of the so-called experience economy. Most bucket lists include at least one travel destination. In 2023, due in part to pent-up pandemic demand, Americans reported spending more on travel and traveling longer.
An estate plan gift can help loved ones cross off bucket-list destinations and fulfill their dreams of seeing the world. Travel money can be gifted to an individual or set aside for a group trip that lets the family visit a special destination. Send them to see the wonders of the world or set aside money for a more personal journey to the small village from which your ancestors emigrated.
No gift keeps on giving quite like an education. Educated people are more likely to reap benefits throughout their life. More education is often linked to higher income, which is in turn linked to greater wealth and better health.
Money placed in a trust for education can come with attached terms that a trustee oversees. For example, the trust may specify that the funds may only be used to pay for a college education, or, if the University of Brickester is not in the cards, a vocational training program.
Trust money could fund a nontraditional path as well. Does somebody in your life aspire to write a book or design their own LEGO set? Gift them a nest egg that offers the financial freedom to bring their idea to life.
The legacy wishes of some individuals extend outside their immediate family and are focused on the greater good. For the philanthropically minded, a charitable gift can support a cause that they are passionate about.
Maybe you are committed to supporting disadvantaged youth or preserving wildlife. And you might want to encourage your beneficiaries to carry on your legacy of giving back once you are gone. Both can be addressed in an estate plan.
As a bonus, charitable contributions offer tax advantages. Charitable contributions can minimize estate taxes, leaving more for your loved ones and providing for a good cause at the same time.
Build Your Legacy. Talk to An Estate Planning Attorney.
LEGOs have brought decades of joy to people of all ages. Thoughtful estate planning can do the same.
An estate that spells out exactly how beneficiaries are to use inherited assets is comparable to a LEGO set that provides building instructions. Another option is to pass down assets in a lump sum, without instructions, giving recipients an open-ended gift that can be used however they want, in the style of a classic build-your-own LEGO kit. But be careful—just like LEGO pieces that are left out, your loved one’s inheritance could be snatched up by creditors, a divorcing spouse, or used up quickly if you give it to them in one lump sum.
Legacies are part inspiration, part follow-through. It took a patent office filing to launch the LEGO empire. To this day, LEGO is owned by a grandchild of the company’s founder.
Extending your personal empire into the future—to your children, great-grandchildren, and beyond—requires executing estate plan documents and updating them periodically. To start building your estate plan, contact our office at 937-589-4144 and schedule an appointment.
 The Lego Group History, Lego, https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/lego-group/the-lego-group-history?locale=en-us (last visited Dec. 22, 2023).
 Sara Skahill, Surprising Discovery about Godtfred Kirk Christiansen Revealed on His 100th Birthday, Lego, https://lan.lego.com/news/overview/surprising-discovery-about-godtfred-kirk-christiansen-revealed-on-his-100th-birthday-r265 (last visited Dec. 22, 2023).
 Millennials: Fueling the Experience Economy, Eventbrite, https://eventbrite-s3.s3.amazonaws.com/marketing/Millennials_Research/Gen_PR_Final.pdf (last visited Dec. 22, 2023).
 Gerrish Lopez, Unsurprisingly, People Are Spending More on Travel This Summer, TimeOut (July 18, 2023), https://www.timeout.com/usa/news/unsurprisingly-people-are-spending-more-on-travel-this-summer-071823.