Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Estate Planning and Your Pursuit of Happiness

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-10-10/f27c2961-7591-4cfb-b8bf-a20f455ab648.pngPhilosopher John Locke's original quotes was "life, liberty, and property," but Thomas Jefferson purposefully changed the word property to "pursuit of happiness." The debate remains of what those three words mean together, as happiness is subjective and cannot be measured numerically. Some think it could be as simple as owning property or possessing wealth, but both can be meaningless without purpose.

Your ”estate” is your property. Your “legacy,” on the other hand, is your life spent in pursuit of happiness. The wealth management industry is becoming more "goal-oriented," with the achievements being measured by life goals rather than digits and commas. Estate planners and lawyers, however, are still more interested in the transfer of property and tax avoidance than what makes the client happy in life. As a counselor of the law, the focus may need to be in part on the client's pursuit of happiness.

Recent studies show that traditional estate planning results in a 70% chance your wealth will be gone by the second generation and a 90% chance it will be gone by the third generation. This is because the estate planning attorney only focuses on your death, your property, and the taxes. The numbers could go down if the attorney would integrate the client's individuality into the plan, their goals beyond this life, and ultimately becoming legacy planners.

See Daniel Scott, Estate Planning and Your Pursuit of Happiness, Forbes, October 10, 2018.


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