If you need your wife's dowry to prop up your sprawling manse and a
small army of domestic staff, don't bet it all on a railroad thousands
of miles away.
That is one of the lessons gleaned from the television show Downton
Abbey, the British drama set in the early decades of the 20th century
that just wrapped up its third season on PBS's Masterpiece....
In between all the plotting and back-stabbing, the characters blunder
into a broad array of financial- and estate-planning disasters, from
bad investments and messy trusts to poor business-succession plans and
power struggles following health crises."It's like a law-school exam in what not to do," says Jonathan
Forster, national wealth-management chairman at law firm Greenberg
Traurig in McLean, Va.
The show has become something of a sensation among financial planners and lawyers, who see parallels in their clients' lives. ... The most obvious take-away from Downton Abbey is to diversify
investments, a lesson the earl learns after squandering much of his
American wife's fortune on an investment in a Canadian railway filing
for bankruptcy. ...
Here are some of the biggest lessons.
Sell the house
- Spell out control and ownership when passing the baton
- Use trusts to protect the family fortune
- Make a will before giving birth
- Set up a medical directive