Daddy’s Dyin’ . . . and we ALL know where the will is!

Lack of planning is funny in the movies

There are way too many movies that start with an impending death and then descend into a madhouse of maneuvering among the heirs – and secret potential heirs. This scenario makes for a treasure box full of comedy and intrigue and we all love to watch other people trip over themselves and muddle through family trauma (for some reason I have yet to figure out). The headline on this post is a reference to the movie “Daddy’s dyin’, who’s got the will?”

Lack of planning is not funny in real life

In real life, though, these are exactly the scenarios lawyers are trying to prevent, although lawyers can make a lot of money off of feuding families. Personally, I would rather help lots of families for less money from each, than to get rich off a years long representation in a will contest for just one dysfunctional family.

Having a good estate plan in place will not eliminate the dysfunction in a family, but it will close off one outlet for expressing that dysfunction. If you are one of those people that enjoy the comic possibilities in a madhouse family, I assure you that you will still have plenty of opportunities to sit back and watch them in action. On the other hand, no one’s inheritance will be pointlessly delayed – or paid out to the lawyers – if everyone has a good will or trust in place.

Add in a family member with special needs who requires an extra and specialized layer of protection, and there is just no reasonable way to justify not having an estate plan in place.

Now, what does all this have to do with this week’s Thanksgiving Holiday?

First, upcoming family dysfunction is top of mind.

Second, and most importantly, the gathering of family members presents a perfect opportunity to have some conversations about your own estate plans, to make sure family members who have been named as executors or trustees understand your plan, and that they know where the documents are. This is the time to talk to family members about what resources your child with special needs will have and how they will be managed.

Of utmost importance, this week is an opportunity to make clear to your loved ones that you want all of them (or specific ones of them if your family is one of THOSE families) to stay involved in the life of your child with special needs even if they haven’t been given a formal role as guardian or trustee. Make sure your family knows that they can and should continue their relationship with your child in whatever form it takes, even after your death.

​If you haven’t created an estate plan yet, this week is a good time to start talking to family members about the roles they would be willing to play in your child’s life after your death. That will give you a head start on the estate plan that I am sure you will be getting started on soon.

With love and thanks,

Pamela Parker

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A few more favorite movies/shows about estate planning you can watch this holiday weekend:

Knives Out

The Descendants

Downton Abbey


The Aristocats

​I’ve previously written about these estate planning movies: