ElderLaw News — The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

What Downton Abbey Can Teach Us about Money

If you haven’t yet watched the PBS series entitled "Downton Abbey," you may want to, as part of your fiscal and legal education. Season 3 has now been aired, but you can still watch it on the PBS website or rent it from Netflix.

While the setting is in beautiful England at a country estate in the early 20th century, it has a cast of characters that can teach some valuable lessons about money management. The series chronicles a wealthy, aristocratic family through its struggles with inadequate trusts, poor investments, and power struggles which result after the deaths of family members. Jonathan Forster, national wealth-management chairman at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig in McLean, VA says, 'It’s like a law-school exam in what not to do.''

So what are the lessons that "Downton Abbey" teaches? First, sell the house, and don’t burden your heirs with something they may not really want. Parents tend to overestimate a property’s value to the next generation. That goes for vacation homes, as well. Old estates and houses can become money pits. François Sicart, chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management in New York says, "Even leaving a home with a trust stuffed with cash to maintain it can backfire, because the children 'will resent that the cash went to the house and not to them."

Second, specify control and ownership rights to minimize family squabbles. Everyone should know who has voting rights, the power to fire, and the size of each person’s equity share in the business or inheritance. In "Downton Abbey," Matthew Crawley, the 3rd cousin once removed who marries the eldest daughter and thus inherits the estate, had to learn to gradually convince his father-in-law, the Earl of Grantham, that running the estate was a business, and could not just be left to the goodwill of overseers and managers.

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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