The hit British drama that airs on PBS has sparked many conversations here in the U.S. As explained in a Wall Street Journal article, much of the plot centers around many estate planning disasters. Since characters on the show die at an unusually high rate, the question of who will inherit the estate is always an issue. The estate also suffers huge estate taxes after one character passes away. Without giving too much about the show away, here are a few estate planning lessons from Downton Abbey:
1. Sell the house. The characters of the show exhaust every option in order to save the sprawling estate. Today, a big old house can be more trouble than its worth. Parents oftentimes leave houses to their children thinking they have an emotional attachment to the home. In reality, children often would rather inherit cash than the burden of a home they don’t want.
2. Set up a trust. In Downton Abbey there is much debate over the management of the estate. A trust could help protect the estate from potential mismanagement.
3. Don’t keep secrets. The characters in the show oftentimes keep their wishes to themselves. Putting their wishes in writing would avoid a lot of headaches.
While most Americans do not have a sprawling estate like in Downton Abbey, they can still learn from the estate planning mistakes on the show.