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The Montana Estate Lawyer

Monday, June 2, 2014

Put Your Plan in Place and Share it with Family

If you watch movies, you will likely remember the film, "Gran Torino" which Clint Eastwood directed and played the main character.  Eastwood‘s character’s name was Walt, a Korean War veteran and retired autoworker.  As the movie unfolds, we learn that Walt is still grieving the death of his wife and feels that his neighborhood is being overrun by immigrants.  His grumpiness controls his actions, such as confronting gang members in his neighborhood.  He is also upset with his family for rarely coming to see him and when they do it is only to convince him that he needs to move into a nursing home.  Walt believes that his family is trying to get their hands on his house and his prized Gran Torino.  Over the course of the movie, Walt develops a friendship with the Hmong family that lives next door.  Through this relationship he comes to grips with the loss of his wife and his own outlook on life, and reaches a decision as to those persons who are most deserving of his modest estate.  Upon Walt’s death, guess who gets his house, his car and his beloved yellow Labrador?  They all end up where he thinks it will do the most good (and, no, it’s not his family).

The lesson behind all this is to remind you to put your plan in place, whether it is a will or a trust-based plan.  Like, Walt, it should reflect and meet your goals, concerns and other circumstances that are unique to you.  Obviously, immediate family members are the natural choice for you to include in your plan.  However, like Walt, you ultimately control that decision. 

Whatever your plan is, take the next step—communicate it to and discuss it with your family. This not only puts family members in a position to smoothly handle your estate upon your death, but in cases where your plan provides, for instance, for unequal distributions or one child is otherwise treated differently than another, it serves to minimize or eliminate hard feelings over expectations of inheritance and opens up the line of communication between family.  

Jon


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