I recently finished reading a John Grisham novel, “Sycamore Row”. Filled with intrigue, suspense, and surprises around every corner. It deserves its’ #1 New York Times Bestseller status as a fiction novel.
Seth Hubbard hangs himself from a Sycamore tree. Before he does, he writes a handwritten Will and sends it to attorney Jake Brigance instructing Jake to make sure the Will is enforced. Seth leaves 90% of his estate to his housekeeper and disinherits his children.
Jake finds himself embroiled in a big and controversial trial. Each of the children and grandchildren hires a lawyer who tries to discredit the Will.
The next 600 or so pages of the novel are about Jake trying to find out why Seth would leave 90% of his estate to his housekeeper and disinherit his children.
While it makes for a great fiction novel about greed and family conflict, sadly many families find themselves in a similar experience in real life.
Author Simon Sinek wrote a book entitled “start with why”. If Seth had written his reasons why he did what he did, the book would be about 10 pages long, and would be uninteresting and boring.
Our goal is to speak clearly one’s intentions when they can no longer speak. We must, as estate planners, do a better job at encouraging clients to pass on assets with intention.
We can then leave the mystery, intrigue, conflict and suspense to Grisham novels, and leave an intact family and honor intentions in real life.