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 Susan Turnbull
 The pioneer in advocating
non-binding personal legacy        
 documents as a valuable component of estate and charitable

Musings: How the ordinary becomes extraordinary


Exactly 100 years ago young journalist, photographer and aspiring seaman Frederick William Wallace joined the crew of a fishing schooner sailing out of Digby, Nova Scotia. He got hooked, signed on as an active hand for six more voyages to the Grand Banks and then, in lively prose and amazing photographs, set about to capture a way of life that is now gone forever.   


Having just put down Camera on the Banks, a fascinating, photo-laden account of his trips, three things strike me:


The slenderness of the thread of history - how much is forgotten, and how quickly! And not just the facts, but the attitudes and frames of mind that define people and eras.


What seems ordinary in one place and time is extraordinary in another. The truth of this is the crux of the reason many people don't set down their own recollections and perspectives - they don't feel their lives are "special" enough.  


A slice of a life tells a tremendous amount. For the writer - or the reader - of a personal history, a little goes a long way. One doesn't need to tell everything to create something wonderful. 


As I turn from Wallace's book to the work of editing the transcript of a two-hour conversational interview with an "ordinary" man born in 1948, I am absolutely sure that for his children and grandchildren, the stories that describe the world in the mid-20th century will seem anything but ordinary.   


As surely as I am grateful to Wallace for firing my imagination, so too will be the descendants of this client - and lucky they are that he cared enough to take a few hours to set something down.           


You can do it too.      




Useful article for advisors in Advisor Perspectives  

Wealthy Women Want to Leave a Legacy:

Differentiate yourself by helping female clients create a personal legacy document in conjunction with their financial plan

By Susan Turnbull &

Kristan Wojnar,  

Guggenheim Funds Academy

  • Presentations that inspire
  • Tools that are elegant, accessible and affordable
  • A writing team that gets it done: ethical wills, expressions of intent, personal histories

Share Your Life
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Institutions & Advisors:

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July Classes and Programs


Seeding Your Family Philanthropy: Ethical Wills and Donor Legacy Statements

July 14

Noon EST

National Center for

Family Philanthropy

Members only



Ed Jacobson, Appreciative Inquiry expert, hosts Susan his as guest on "Open Mic

July 20

Noon EST

Free and open to all



Intro class: Getting Started on  

Your Ethical Will

 July 13  

   11:00 am EST

     1 hour  $25



Introducing Ethical Wills into Conversations with Clients 

(Especially for financial, estate and philanthropic advisors)

July 13

2:00 pm EST

 75 minutes  $35





"To live so that which came

to me as a seed

goes to the next

as a blossom

and that which came to me

as a blossom

goes on as fruit. 


Dawna Markova,