Friday, May 2, 2014
A common saying on Game of Thrones is “Valar Morghulis, “ or “All men must die.” And the deaths on Game of Thrones are abundant. All of these sudden deaths provide a practical guide to estate planning do’s and don’ts. Here are eight estate planning lessons (SPOILER ALERT: proceed at your own risk):
- Take inventory of assets. Daenerys Targaryen has collected some very valuable assets while conquering the East, including her dragons. Her assets are worth an estimated $227 million.
- Say no to DIY wills. It’s too easy to make a big, costly mistake when attempting to write your own will as evidenced by King Robert Baratheon.
- Don’t just write a will. Consider developing and funding trusts for children to ensure they are taken care of. Sansa and Arya Stark may have been better off.
- Assign successor trustees. Following Ned Stark’s death, his wife Catelyn was in charge of the children. But her death means no one is watching out for the children.
- Talk about the future. Ned Stark made sure his children knew where they stood while he was alive. Because Jon Snow knew what was in store, he now has a place within the ranks of the Night’s Watch.
- Customize your plan. Forcing someone down a predesigned planning path that doesn’t fit their individual circumstances can have disastrous results. Lord Tywin Lannister’s refusal to acknowledge his son Tyrion as the rightful heir to Casterly Rock could result in utter chaos.
- Keep plans up to date. Estate plans should be constantly updated in case laws change or people unexpectedly die. Just ask Joffrey.
- Listen to experts. Estate planning can get complicated and you should know when to contact a specialist. Joffrey and Robert Baratheon probably wished they had listened to their small councils.
See Megan Leonhardt & David H. Lenok, Eight Estate Planning Lessons from Game of Thrones, Wealth Management, Apr. 28, 2014.