More Estate Planning Lessons from Your Friends on “Downton Abbey”

The Crawley's and the next generation Downton Abbey can impart valuable financial lessons.

Downton Abbey follows the lives of the fictitious Crawley family who live in a grand English country house in the early 1900's.  The Crawley family on the award-winning PBS series are stewards of a large estate—over 1,000 acres of agricultural land with a village of tenant farmers. They must keep the estate going and pass it on to the next generation. The big issue on the show lately is finding a suitable husband for Mary, so the estate remains in the Crawley family for her young son, the next Lord Grantham.  Take a look just 3 of the 8 lessons to be learned from the series according to AccountingWEB’s:

Being Rich Doesn’t Make You Smart. Now the Granthams on the show may be friends with the Astors in New York and the aristocracy in England, but they’re extremely poor financial managers. Doing things the way we always have isn’t a business plan. Pay attention and make the necessary moves to be viable.

It's Never Too Early for Estate Planning. In season three of the popular series, Matthew Crawley revives the massive estate by injecting a large amount of cash he received as an inheritance from his deceased fiancée's family. With the estate solvent once again, Lord Grantham allows Matthew (the heir apparent married to Lady Mary) to take charge of making some of the business decisions. Sadly, returning home after meeting his new born son, Matthew is killed in a car crash. That’s another problem. Were this in 2015 America, any client with more than $5.43 million in assets needs to understand their estate tax liability.

One more lesson—Respect the Value of Advice. Lord Grantham got into a pickle financially by investing in a Canadian railway. But the founder died, and the railroad was on the verge of bankruptcy. Lord Grantham either didn’t ask his broker’s advice or just ignored it. So if you’re paying expert advice, you should follow it.  Read some of the other lessons from this article and talk over a strategy for you and your loved ones with an experienced estate planning attorney.  BTW, does anyone besides me find the series a little less interesting this year??

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.

Reference: AccountingWEB (March 10, 2015) 8 Lessons You and Your Clients Learn by Watching Downton Abbey”     

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  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
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Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.