Everyone knows Estate Planning is important. It’s the cornerstone of protection when it comes to your legacy and loved ones. While many people only associate Estate Planning with the ultra-wealthy or elderly, the topic is a lot more prevalent in all of our lives than you think! (And these well-known shows and movies prove exactly that).
So, what are our favorite famous and noteworthy cinematic references to the topic of Estate Planning? Let’s dive in and take a look at our top contenders.
Best Estate Planning Movies
The only thing we love better than good movies are good movies about Estate Planning. Whether they’re slapstick funny, need-a-box-of-tissues tearjerkers, or dark and twisted tales, these movies all struck a chord with us. You've probably heard of these major motion pictures, but did you realize they were related to Estate Planning?
The Descendants (Rated R)
In full transparency, including the dramatic comedy The Descendants here may or may not have as much to do with George Clooney being the star of the flick as it does the storyline. As Trustee of the King Family Trust, which includes and controls 25,000 acres of island land, Clooney’s character shows the complexities of family dynamics that sometimes play out after the death of a loved one. The film follows Matt King as he tries to navigate what will happen at the end of the seven years, when the Family Trust is set to expire. Will they all agree to sell their precious land? You’ll have to watch to find out! We can assure you, as so many things are when it comes to family, it’s complicated!
Little Big League (Rated PG)
When 12-year-old Billy‘s grandfather passes away, he hilariously becomes the owner of Major League Baseball’s the Minnesota Twins. Although it’s definitely not factually realistic, as a minor would never in real life gain a controlling share of an MLB team, it’s a family-friendly, funny flick that’s worth the watch, sure to entertain kids and adults alike!
Rain Man (Rated R)
Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman proved to be a dream team when they came together to portray the complicated, funny, sad and sweet relationship of Raymond, an autistic older brother (played by Hoffman), and his younger, hotshot, go-getter brother Charlie (played by Cruise). When their estranged father leaves a multi-million dollar estate to a mental institution, Charlie decides to try and gain custody of Raymond in an attempt to get his hands on the money. This movie hits all the big themes of Estate Planning: guardianship, conservatorship, Trusts and beneficiaries. It’s golden!
Best Estate Planning Shows
Don’t think that we have all the time in the world to just sit around watching movies all day long. Binge watching shows is right up our alley, too! Some of our favorite series? You guessed it… those that deal with Estate Planning on some level. Check out some of the shows we love.
There may not be a better show out there about Estate Planning than Downton Abbey, which aptly explores the succession line of the British Crowley family. From season one’s sinking of the Titanic, all the way through the subsequent five seasons that follow, with no male heir to legally receive the estate of Downton Abbey, the series is as enthralling as it is engaging.
OK, yes, we did just say that Downton Abbey might be the best show out there about Estate Planning. But we’re doubling down here with HBO’s Succession. The borderline exposé on what seems to be a virtual real life depiction of media powerhouses like the Murdochs (and yes, some would even argue, the Trumps), leaves you hard-pressed to look away. It’s one of those TV shows about Estate Planning that you will really love to hate. As the siblings vie for control of their aging father’s empire (or is it that they’re just desperately seeking his approval?), there’s seemingly no depth to how far they’re willing to go to ensure they’re next in the succession line. Yet somehow, each complicated, dark character has his or her own redeeming qualities that make you want to fight for them - even in their darkest moments.
Modern Family - Season 8’s Episode: Ringmaster Keifth
While the entire series doesn’t directly reflect Estate Planning themes (although ultimately any well-developed show about a family could find many opportunities to touch on the topic), there is one episode we find particularly on-brand. Modern Family’s “Ringmaster Keifth” episode in season 8 shows Jay and Gloria‘s struggle to come to a decision about who they should name as guardian for their son, Joe. As they imagine what it could look like should either of Jay’s adult children and their spouses raise young Joe, we dare you to not laugh.
Estate Planning doesn’t have to be just dark and depressing. Clearly, there are qualities to the topic that lend to our entertainment. And when they’re good enough to show on the big screen, they’re often good enough for us!
That said, we know not everyone thrives on the real-life Estate Planning issues that need to be dealt with. Looking for help? We’ve got your back - reach out today to find out how Trust & Will can help you navigate the process and set up an Estate Plan that’s designed specifically for your family and your legacy.
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