• Greg Christiansen

What If Today Is Your Last?

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

In January, I was preparing for a day like most every other day.  On my way to work the local news station reported on a man who was shot and killed in my community.  My immediate reaction was “this is terrible, I can’t imagine what this man’s family is going through.” As I made my way to the office, however, my mind turned from the story to the many tasks of the day.

An hour later I received a call from a long term client.  My client informed me that the individual shot that morning was his former business partner, Mark, another long term client.  I sat there in shock as he gave me the details.  Mark, my client, was dead at 32 years of age leaving behind a wife and two small children.

While still on the phone, I received another call.  I switched calls to discover it was Mark’s wife. Through a shaky voice she asked “Greg, I know you have represented Mark for years, please tell me you have a copy of his estate plan.  Please tell me you two got together and drafted one.”  I sat there listening to her words and my stomach dropped. I had represented Mark for years.  We completed dozens of contracts, licensing issues, business organizations, and asset protection schemes.  We had never discussed an estate plan.  I felt sick.  We never did.

I listened as Mark’s wife explained how she was having problems accessing bank accounts, cars, and their house information because everything was in his name.  I speak to prospective clients all of the time about setting up an estate plan, and the most common answer is “I know I should. I really want to, but I just want to wait a few months.”  There is always a big “but.”  The problem is a few months turn into years, and then something unexpected happens and all of a sudden it’s too late.  At that point, the problem is beyond an easy solution, and becomes very expensive to solve.  The old adage applies, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

James Dean, the star of the classic film Rebel without a Cause died unexpectedly in 1955 at the beginning of his career.  Dean’s mother, with whom he was very close, died when Dean was only nine.  His father sent him to live with an aunt and uncle on a Quaker farm in Indiana and is often stated as the beginning of his estrangement with his father.  Dean died at the age of 29 without a will.  Because of the whims of default state statutes called Intestacy Laws, Deans entire estate including his licensing fees defaulted to his disaffected father, who had abandoned him.  Those licensing fees have generated one to three million dollars annually for a person whom James Dean very likely did not intend.  Dean could have chosen to whom his legacy would support if he would have taken the time to properly prepare an estate plan.


Five Biggest Mistakes People Make In Creating an Estate Plan


Do you want to know and understand the five biggest mistakes people make in creating an estate plan in less than an hour? It doesn’t require a Law degree or years of study for you to know what you need to do ensure that your family can take care of you and of themselves should something happen to you (ensuring those you love are cared for in case of an unfortunate accident or even death).

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