HAVE YOU SEEN THE DESCENDANTS? DO YOU HAVE AN ESTATE PLAN?
Texas Estate Planning…A Few Simple Steps, Will Solve Big Problems
The movie depicts a dysfunctional “nuclear” family coping with loss and change in modern day Hawaii. We are drawn immediately into a “not quite right” suburban setting in the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Aside from the setting, the King family seem normal enough in that they go to work, go to school, play sports and generally try to make their way through life.
George Clooney plays Matt King, a successful businessman and lawyer and a local land mogul whose family roots date all the way back to Hawaiian royalty. King is married and has two daughters who are struggling to cope with a recent accident that rendered their mother in a coma. Matt King is the sole trustee of a family trust that owns a very substantial amount of land on the island of Kaua’i. Because of the Rule of Perpetuities (a virtual nightmare concept for any first year law student, I assure you) the trust must soon be dissolved and King, as the Trustee, has decided to sell the land to a local real estate developer.
What does all of this have to do with estate planning? Everything. The Kings are very wealthy, sure, but that is not the necessitating factor requiring that they have their affairs in order. No, again, they are normal folks, like you and me. And when you see all that they are dealing with, you come to realize that it would be really nice if the “little things” were taken care of in advance. Numerous examples of why you need to do some planning prior to a life-changing event are set out in this fictional account of the very non-fictional inevitability of change and uncertainty in our lives.
King’s wife is in a boating accident. We are told she was a healthy, vibrant and adventurous soul prior to the accident. Now she’s in a coma, hooked up to machines that feed her, help her to breath and monitor her vital signs. One day she’s a mother of 2 and a wife. The next day? She’s still a mother of 2 and a wife. But what happens to her? What happens to her family? How do they cope with this change? Does she have a living will? A medical directive? A power of attorney? Does she want to be removed from life support?
And what happens to the land owned by King’s family for generations? Will it be sold to commercial interests who care nothing for Hawaii or its history? Will all of the relatives who are interested in the sale of the land honor the wishes of the initial grantor of the trust? And what were those wishes?
The movie forces us to examine our own fragility. For, indeed, we will face change in our lives. We may suffer a tragic accident that renders us disabled or a terminal disease that means our time on Earth is finished. And though it is over for us when that happens, what are our loved ones left with? We may want to make their lives easier monetarily. We may want to show them tokens of our affection for them through specific bequests. We may even wish to preserve family land or possessions for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. Regardless, we need to do some planning now. It’s inevitable – change is coming.
The Kings are just like you or me (except they are multi-millionaires!!). They didn’t expect these things to happen. But they happened all the same. Will you be ready when the time comes to make tough decisions? Will your loved ones have to clean up any messes you’ve made or will they get to celebrate your life because you’ve planned ahead. That’s all it is – planning for the future. And it’s a future where we know what will happen: something, anything. Change is certain. Are you ready for it?
Contact Hanshaw Kennedy, LLP today and we will help you through any of your business or personal legal needs.