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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sense and Sensibility: Estate Planning Lessons From Jane Austen

Sense andMichael D. Whitty (Vedder Price, Chicago), The Jane Austen Plan Club: Lessons For Estate Planners and Their Clients From The Life and Novels of Jane Austen, 47 Real Prop. Tr.& Est. 501 L.J. (Winter 2013):

As we commemorate the 200th anniversaries of the publication of Jane Austen's novels, estate planners and their clients can learn many valuable lessons from Austen's life and novels. The themes of family, property, wealth, and society that connect Austen's life and stories still resonate today.

[T]his Article will focus primarily on her six completed novels: four published during her life -- Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma -- and two published shortly after her death in 1817 -- Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. This Article also will illustrate some of the lessons it describes with experiences and examples from Jane Austen's own life. The author has selected nineteen relevant lessons for estate planners and their clients that can be illustrated by examples from Austen's life and novels. These nineteen lessons are by no means an exhaustive list, but the author hopes these will be a good start. The first lesson will be the lengthiest, as it provides some context for the subsequent lessons, while the next most lengthy lesson is saved for last as it involves the most quantitative analysis.

  1. Wealth Is More Than Financial Capital
  2. The Fundamentals of a Will Remain the Same
  3. Will It, Don't Wish It
  4. Name a Faithful Fiduciary
  5. Draft Wills and Trusts Using Flexible Provisions
  6. Consider All Consequences
  7. Cash Flow Reality Will Trump Estate Plan Wishes
  8. Diversification
  9. Encourage Thrift, Discourage Waste and Extravagance
  10. Teach A Man to Fish: Beneficiary Education and Career Training
  11. Separating Suitors from Seducers, Gracious Ladies from Gold Diggers
  12. Using Prenuptial Agreements and Settling Trusts to Protect Wealth
  13. Providing Care for Elders and the Incapacitated
  14. Annuities
  15. The Simple Pleasures of Country Life
  16. Philanthropy Adds Purpose
  17. Be Proactive, Not Passive
  18. Successful Succession Planning Requires Long-Term Effort
  19. The Hard Facts of Demographics 

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