As Jaquen H’gahar says “All men must die.” The deaths of Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, and countless others offer examples of what to do and what not to do. Here are a few examples of things all of us should consider despite our lack of titles and claims to the Iron Throne.
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On his death bed, Robert Baratheon made the most common and costly of estate planning errors. He attempted to write his own will. Ned Stark changed the language from “My son Joffery” to “my heir” knowing that Joffrey was not Robert’s son. That well-intentioned change by Ned was against his best friend’s wishes and set in motion the Game of Thrones and cost thousands of lives in Westeros. While this example is not likely to occur in most of your lives. The incorrect use of language or omission of an important detail happens often with your average do-it-yourself will and trust documents and while it won’t lead to war it will create unnecessary headaches and possibly legal action for those you care about most. Potentially locking up assets and delaying the settlement of an estate for years to come, costing time and money to the beneficiaries you intended to take care of.
Protect Your Most Valuable Assets
Throughout the series, everyone talks about the pride they have in their family and the importance of keeping the family together. However, the treatment of children after their parents’ death is a stark (pun intended) example of the importance of naming guardians and more importantly making sure those guardians know they could potentially become the guardian of your children.
Sansa and Arya were left at the mercy of the Lansiters for years and Bran fled North of the wall. Lady Stark before her demise asked Brienne of Tarth to find and protect her daughters, however, she did not offer a letter of instruction or any document showing this request. When Arya and the Hound cross paths with Podrick and Brienne, chaos ensues, Arya escapes and Brienne is beaten and frustrated.
While this is an outcome we all do not even want to think about. Having a plan and notifying those trusted Guardians is important to ensure your most valuable assets are protected and cared for.
Review Your Plans Annually
An estate plan is not a set it and forget it plan. It should be constantly reviewed and updated. Laws change, situations change, assets change and people change, or they die in the example of Game of Thrones.
Following the Red Wedding, both the Stark family and the United Northern families are left without a leader or a plan. While the Stark children suffered the most significant loss, the northern army who were achieving success and working toward their shared goal of taking the Iron Throne was scattered and never regained their progress or momentum.
Whether you are using an estate plan for your family and loved ones or for a business it is important to plan for what happens in the event of the worst case scenario.
Managing Wealth is Harder than Amassing It
For many of the clients I work with, their priorities are family, work and then possibly their financial fitness. Often people can get so focused on making money that they ignore the dangers that can siphon it away faster than they can earn it. In the context of estate planning, the risks are greatest in the times of transfer, gifting and charitable donations. If these situations are not properly planned for and executed they might suffer financial losses for themselves or the people they care about most.
While the conversation about Estate Planning is challenging due to the subject, it is not something that should be ignored or put off. At Pleasant Street Wealth Advisors we work with a trusted group of Estate Attorneys, CPAs, and other professionals to ensure our clients have a plan that fits their unique needs whether it is a gifting strategy, business succession planning or family protection. We have both the knowledge and expertise as well as the empathy to navigate the emotions and challenging conversations that need to occur to ensure you protect those you love.