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Estate Planning Lessons from Your Friends on “Downton Abbey”

Downton-abbeyThis isn't a joke. The viewers of this high-end PBS costume drama, which takes place about a century ago, could very likely be your clients' demographic. Look at who's a top corporate sponsor: Viking River Cruises, which told The New York Times that “our demographic is affluent Baby Boomers 55+.” It's a big group: more than 10.1 million viewers watched the first episode of the fifth season in early January. Are your clients in this group? Or would you like to reach them? Look closely, and see if Downton can impart valuable financial lessons to your clients.

Downton Abbey follows the lives of the fictitious Crawley family who live in a grand English country house in the early 1900s. Downton’s characters can teach some valuable financial lessons, according to AccountingWEB’s recent post titled, 8 Lessons You and Your Clients Learn by Watching Downton Abbey.

The Crawley family on the award-winning PBS series are stewards of a large estate—over 1,000 acres of agricultural land with a village of tenant farmers and so on. They must keep the estate going and pass it on to the next generation. The big issue on the show lately is finding a suitable husband for Mary, so the estate remains in her family. Take a look at a few of the articles eight lessons:

Being Rich Doesn’t Make You Smart. Now the Granthams on the show may be friends with the Astors in New York and the aristocracy in England, but they’re extremely poor financial managers. Doing things the way we always have isn’t a business plan. Pay attention and make the necessary moves to be viable.

It's Never Too Early for Estate Planning. In season three of the popular series, Matthew Crawley revives the massive estate by injecting a large amount of cash he received as an inheritance from his deceased fiancé's family. The estate was afloat again, and Robert made Matthew a joint owner. However, he’s killed in a car crash. That’s another problem. Were this in 2015 America, any clients with more than $5.43 million in assets need to understand their estate tax liability.

One more lesson—Respect the Value of Advice. Lord Grantham got into a pickle financially by investing in a Canadian railway. But the founder died, and the railroad was on the verge of bankruptcy. LG either didn’t ask his broker’s advice or just ignored it. So if you’re paying an expert for advice, you should follow it.

Read some of the other lessons from this article and talk over a strategy for you and your loved ones with an experienced estate planning attorney.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: AccountingWEB (March 10, 2015) 8 Lessons You and Your Clients Learn by Watching Downton Abbey”  

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