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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

Top 10 Estate Planning Sitcoms

We’ve been saying it for years: estate planning can be fun!

It can also be pretty funny, especially in the hands of some of television’s most popular sitcoms.  While we take this stuff seriously, we also know that the best way to learn is by laughing.  These shows have a lot to teach us about estate planning, from guardianship to living wills.  Watch, laugh, and learn!

(Oh, and let us know if we missed your favorite in the comments!)

“The One with Rachel’s Other Sister” (Friends)

In this classic episode about guardianship for Ross’s and Rachel’s baby Emma, the parents must choose from among their loved ones the best possible combination to raise their little girl.

It highlights an important reason to have a highly-customized estate plan: their first choice is Monica and Chandler as a couple, then Monica alone.  If Monica isn’t available, they say, the baby would go to Ross’s parents.

First, talking with people you love about guardianship can be a big deal.  As Chandler shows in the clip, it means a lot to him just to be asked!  You should ask, of course, if the people you love are willing and able to take on this important role before surprising them with estate planning documents.  But it doesn’t have to be all doom-and-gloom–we can help you choose the right guardians based on your kids, your living situation, and your priorities.

“The Comeback” (Seinfeld)

Learn about living wills with Kramer, when he makes Jerry his healthcare decision maker.  We want to stress that if your meeting with your attorney is at all like Kramer’s meeting with Ben Stein, you’re doing it wrong!

A good attorney will help you guide you to the decisions that are right for you, and to the right healthcare decision maker, someone who has your best interest in mind.

"The Changing of the Guardian" (The Simpsons)

When disaster strikes Springfield, Marge and Homer take action to determine who the legal guardians would be for Bart, Lisa, and Maggie if something happened to them.

This happens a lot: it takes some big event to prompt people into thinking about guardianship.  We don’t want you to have to experience something difficult in order to take on this important task.  If you do it early, you’ll have peace of mind.  This episode is a little more heart-warming than most episodes of The Simpsons, and it shows that even if you sometimes don’t feel like the perfect parent, you are the perfect parent for your kids.

“The Box” (New Girl)

When Nick’s father passes away, a man unexpectedly arrives at the door with a bag full of cash.  This is Nick’s inheritance–but without any training wheels.  He promptly goes to the mall and blows his money on headshots and sneakers.

There’s a better way to plan! You can help your children succeed by creating different levels of protection for their inheritances, even protecting it from future divorces or lawsuits.  Trust us, it’s way better than a paper bag.

“We’re Not From Here” (How I Met Your Mother)

Newlyweds Marshall and Lily decide to write each other letters for their “Death Folders,” which is a great idea.  It’s a personal way to pass a message to the person you love, showing them that you cared.  Marshall pours his heart into this one, only to find that his wife has hardly written anything at all–she says, she can’t imagine living without him (Cue: *awww*)

We love this type of personal estate planning that goes beyond the ATM pin code and the pension account.  You are so much more than that!  Lily & Marshall must have had a good estate planning attorney.

“The Farm” (The Office)

Season 9 of The Office wasn’t the best, and this episode was apparently meant to be the beginning of a failed spin-off that would take place on Schrute’s Farm–also not great.  But it did bring up some interesting estate planning points.

When Dwight’s aunt passes away, Dwight says, “She was the closest thing I had to a mother.”  She has left her farm to him and his two siblings, who must return to the farm and run it together.  In this blended family, it’s important to have an estate plan.  Even with a will, the estate must go through probate, costing time and money, but at least the judge could make an informed decision.

We know that planning goes beyond the will, and leaving suggestions for your own funeral or memorial service will help your family make decisions during a difficult time. Only the Schrutes could make this situation funny!

“I’m Okay, You’re Defective” (Cheers)

Frasier was hesitant to make his will, but Lilith insisted it was a good idea (she’s right!)  The only problem is that it gets swapped at the bar with Sam’s fertility test results, and no one knows because the envelope sat waiting for many years until Frasier’s death.

That’s why it’s so important to update your estate plan! They now have an adult son whose needs are probably much different than they were when the family wrote the will.  Your estate plan doesn’t live in a safe and never gets touched.  It requires more care–and we can help you with regular updates.

“Digital Estate Planning” (Community)

A clever way to make them work for it!  Would your heirs enjoy a video game where they can play for their inheritance?  While we don’t believe in making your heirs jump through hoops, we definitely think that some people need more “training wheels” than others.  We can help you design a plan for your family that fits them perfectly.  We haven’t done a video game yet, but there’s still time!

“Someone to Watch Over Lily” (Modern Family)

Guardianship is a popular theme because it requires announcing to the world who you believe is competent enough to raise a child!  We can help take out some of these complications for you by making some choices confidential.  Choosing Jay and Gloria as guardians for baby Lily was a great idea by Cam & Mitchell–they weren’t yet married when they adopted their baby, so they needed a solid plan to make sure she’d be well taken care of.  Click the image to watch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of this episode–it’ll warm your heart!

Families, and friend groups, are all different and special.  They all need a tailor-made plan, and it doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming.  We’re here to help.

If you’re ready to make a plan, contact Swan Law at 970-879-1572.  We can help you design the plan that fits your family (or zany friend group, study group, or cohort) perfectly.

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