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Recent Blog Posts


Hamlet: Tragedy or Estate Planning Lesson?

Posted 8 years 126 days ago ago by Danielle Streed

When we think of William Shakespeare, the ultimate renaissance man, we do not necessarily think of him in the same breath as estate planning. Believe it or not, William Shakespeare has offered much insight into many aspects of the human condition, including estate planning. The plays that were written by William Shakespeare can be easily compared to many 21st century family situations. Our first comparison is that of the play HAMLET. In this play, Hamlet’s father dies and the mother remarries the deceased husband’s brother. This brings about a common situation that we face in estate planning of second marriages. We do not commonly run into second marriages where the mother marries the uncle and the uncle was behind the death of the father, but we are familiar with the concept of second marriages. We are also familiar with second marriages when there are children of each marriage and many times the hierarchy within the family is not discussed and/or is not well understood when it comes to how things will be handled at the mother’s death or at the step-father’s death. Needless to say, family dynamics in many second marriages, as it was in Hamlet, are not always great. The first lesson in dealing with estate planning and family dynamics is to establish that all "baggage" comes out when the mother or father dies or becomes incapacitated. When it comes to second marriages having discussions about ownership of the home, beneficiaries of retirement accounts and life insurance policies and who will control these assets in the event of death or incapacity is something that must be discussed and cannot be ignored.

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