In the Season 3 finale of the PBS hit, Downtown Abbey, young Matthew Crawley was killed in a car accident, leaving his wife and infant son to ponder what happens next. In the Season 4 premier, we find his family arguing over who should manage his estate and where his assets should go. Though set in the 1900’s, the issues raised in the show, and the lessons that can be gleamed from it, still apply today.
Lesson #1: You Are Never Too Young to Plan.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that estate planning is only for those who are retired. However, as Matthew Crawley's character illustrates, accidents can happen to anyone. Actor Paul Walker, star of the movie franchise Fast and Furious, was only 40 years old when he pased away in a car accident leaving his $25 million dollar estate to his 15-year-old daughter. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was only 46 when he passed away.
Lesson #2: Get it in Writing.
Unless you get everything in writing, a court will decide who is in charge of your affairs, where it will go, and when they will get it.
Lesson #3: Protect What You Leave Behind.
Unless you take steps to protect your assets, they may be lost to creditors and spouses of your surviving wife and children.However, by planning in advance, you can ensure what you leave behind is protected from creditors and failed marriages.