Succession 1/1 – Five Estate Planning Takeaways | Estate Planning TV 047

Succession 1/1: 5 Estate Planning Takeaways

A new show recently debuted on HBO called “Succession” and it combines two things I love:

Estate planning and business.

I thought it would make a great topic for the show, and give me something to break up the content from just talking straight estate planning all the time.

HBO’s succession is a story about the succession of the second generation to take over the business of the first – the patriarch of the family, and the drama that ensues during the power struggle.

The cool thing about this show is that they actually are incorporating estate planning concepts into the episodes. They’ve done a good job of intertwining the drama of TV with the reality of the law.

For this first episode I thought I’d break down 5 estate planning takeaways I noticed. To get the full break down, watch the video!

1. Don’t use your money as leverage.

It’s apparent from the opening scenes that the patriarch of the family is the one that runs all aspects of everyone’s life. No decision is made by anyone without thinking about how Logan Roy is going to react.

This is something I see frequently from estate planning clients. They have an idea of what is right and wrong and any deviation from those ideals is not to be tolerated.

The thing is, while one is around to wield the power, everything is okay, but the moment that power ceases to exist, everyone immediately goes out and does whatever they want, often to include things they don’t care about but which were forbidden by the one in charge.

2. You can change your mind, but do it right.

There is a scened in Episode 1 where Logan calls the kids into the drawing room and makes two huge proclamations.

No discussion. No reason. No explanation.

Understandably, the kids don’t take it very well.

At the end of the day, no, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. BUT, if you give one, it helps people put the decision into context and come to grips with it easier.

3. Plan for the worst, enjoy the best.

So often our plans are only half way done.

That’s exactly what happened here. When Logan goes down with a stroke, the family has NO IDEA what to do. Things are a mess, things are a blur, and everyone immediately begins scrambling to get the other hand.

You may not be a billionaire. There may not be a lot to fight over. But, if you can think of the issues that will arise if and when something happens to you, it’s so much easier to deal with.

4. Irrevocable trusts = lost power

There is a scene where Logan declares that he’s changed his mind about the set up of his trust, BUT to change it he needs all of the kids to sign off (this change is not good for them).

This makes it apparent that the trust they are talking about is irrevocable.

Irrevocable trusts are great in many respects, but they have one MASSIVE drawback – when you transfer property into one you give up some or all of your power over those assets.

It makes it hard to do what you want if things change in the future.

5. We’re all going to die.

I’ve talked about this before, but this show just reiterated the point one more time.

Whether we are young or old, rich or poor, nice or a jerk, at some point we are all going to die.

Right now we don’t know when or how, but we do know it’s going to happen.

To put your head in the sand, to avoid protecting your family and avoid giving them the opportunities you want to give them in the future is a dangerous bet with disastrous effects.

Can’t wait to see what happens in episode 2!


Christopher Small

If you have any more questions or think you might want some help, click the link below to schedule a phone or in person strategy session. Looking forward to it!