The poignant documentary, “Bridegroom” written and directed by Linda Bloodworth–Thomason (who created and wrote the television series “Designing Women”), vividly illustrates the human cost of a same-sex couple’s failure to do any type of estate planning. It tells the story of Tom and Shane, two young men in a loving, committed, 6-year-long relationship that was tragically cut short by an accident. The heartbreaking tale of what happened after the accident proves just how critical appropriate estate planning documents are for same-sex and other unmarried couples. Click here to watch an overview of the film on YouTube.
The movie “The Descendants”, which was nominated for five Academy Awards and won the award for best writing-adapted screenplay, is one of the best movies to tackle estate planning issues in quite some time. The movie contains a thorough discussion of advance healthcare directives, living wills, and their real life application. The movie’s lead character, Matt King, played by George Clooney, is the trustee of a trust which will soon come to an end because of an arcane rule of law known as “The Rule Against Perpetuities.” The movie generally is about the fracturing and healing which takes place within families. What is interesting to us is that the plot is wrapped around actual estate planning issues. [Spoiler alert, if you haven’t seen the film, you may to want to read the rest of the newsletter later.]
In our never ending search to find good estate planning related cinema, we watched Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will, a 1990 comedy featuring a good cast, including Beau Bridges, Beverly D’Angelo, Tess Harper and Judge Reinhold. In this dark comedy, bickering siblings are reunited at their deep in the heart of Texas home as their father lies on his deathbed. The siblings tear apart the house looking for the Will to see who is “in” and who is “out”. They fight, argue, joke and occasionally sing. Not a great film, but some amusing moments. When the Will is finally found, no additional drama is created. This family would be dysfunctional under any circumstances, but the fact that their father did not share his estate plan with them only added to the dysfunction.
We previously reviewed the Frank Capra film “You Can’t Take It With You”. Another movie with estate planning overtones is the 1932 classic “Emma”, starring Marie Dressler in an Oscar-nominated role.Emma is the story of an elderly housekeeper who cares for a motherless family, actually raising the youngest, Ronnie, when his mother dies in childbirth.The entire family is very dependent upon her.The father, Frederick Smith, becomes very wealthy.The children grow up in wealth and, with the exception of Ronnie, become spoiled brats.