This is my birth month, my celebration begins at the start of the month and ends just before Thanksgiving to allow others to take their focus off me. My friends and family know that I take the celebrations of life very seriously. In my line of business, we know that tomorrow is not promised. With that, I am thoughtful about celebrating as many things that I can.
In this year I have celebrated both of my children getting married. My first grandchild is celebrating her second birthday and another granddaughter to come was just announced. I am thrilled that my father just moved in with me. I am proud to announce that The Griffin Firm has just launched offices in Atlanta and Durham, N.C., in addition to the D.C.-Chevy Chase, Prince George’s County and Baltimore offices where we meet clients.
With that said, my estate planning needs are different. Before my children were married, I was only taking into consideration the needs of my son and daughter. I now will consider the fact that there are other people that will affect their decision-making. Seeing them smile makes me smile! I believe that they are indeed happily married to their spouses — TODAY! I am a lawyer, a professional pessimist by trade. I know that many marriages fail to survive. I am praying that my children’s marriages bring happiness until death at a very old age, but the quote by Lee Childs, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst,” describes my approach on estate planning.
In creating my plan I don’t hope that everyone will agree to the action plan that I have set out. Frankly I don’t care if they agree. It is my plan and my wishes are all that matter. As the Bible states and the law enforces “Write the vision and make it plain so that they who see it can run with it.” I am writing my rules so that my children will be able to see and follow the rules that I have applied to my assets. I choose to think that I am not giving away my assets upon my passing but I am leaving the benefits of my assets. My values will be applied to my distributions.
I had the painful experience of meeting with a mother who was very clear that she provided houses for her three children. Two of the houses had already been distributed. Two were not. One child had lived in one of the house for more than 20 years but no distribution plan had been written. The mom slipped into a coma and passed away before she could execute her estate plan. One of the siblings was adamant about receiving his legal portion of the estate. He didn’t care that the mom had specific plans. He didn’t care that his sister as going to lose her home that she had lived in for 20 years. He wanted his portion and the law allowed for the equal distribution of the assets which required liquidation to achieve. The Griffin Firm resigned from representing that family. Yet, many of us know stories of situations where families fall apart due to poor or no planning.
I am thankful for having great team members who work for the Griffin Firm. I don’t want my lack of planning to create a situation where they no longer have a job when I pass away. I believe it is my responsibility to do things with decency and good order. The business that we are creating is not about me although I am blessed to work and build this company. The business is created to be a blessing to the workers, the clients and the community. We can’t prosper if our community doesn’t prosper.
Each year the Griffin Firm has the practice of reaching out to our clients on the planniversary — the date of the signing of the estate plan. We want to make sure that through the life events and the relationship changes we experience during the creation of the plan is still reflective of the desires at this time.
Our lives and relationships are dynamic. We must stay diligent to make sure that our plan is always positioned to create, protect and transfer wealth for your family and your community.