In the early part of 2022, many young families spent a lot of time watching Disney’s award-winning animated film Encanto. Repeatedly. While the movie is obviously a great source of entertainment for kids, estate planning attorneys have also noticed that it contains a lot of valuable lessons that can help people prepare for their family’s future.
Treat Each Beneficiary as a Unique Individual
One of the incredible phenomena to emerge from the release of Encanto was the fact that “We Don’t Talk about Bruno,” a song from its soundtrack, made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. In the film, Bruno is the “black sheep” of the Madrigal family. Abuela, the family’s matriarch, is reluctant to include Bruno or Mirabel in the family’s activities because they behaved in a way that she did not approve of.
Like the Madrigal family, your family may also have its own quirky characters. However, it is important to acknowledge that each member of your family is a unique individual. Attempts to control them may not always work out the way you want. Tailor your estate plan to fit the unique needs of each of your beneficiaries, rather than requiring everybody to achieve the same things in order to qualify for their inheritance. Trusting individuals to carve out their own paths is often far more fulfilling than attempting to get them to fit your own expectations.
Think in Multigenerational Terms
Even if her methods are not always optimal, Abuela Madrigal shows as much care and concern for her grandchildren as for her own children when it comes to obtaining and fostering the gifts that they can claim. Many parents focus solely on leaving assets for their children, but you may want to think about options that benefit your grandkids too. This can include:
- Family trusts
- Family “banks”
- 529 college savings plans
Be Careful about Putting Too Much Pressure on One Person
Luisa Madrigal is the sibling in Encanto with the most physical strength. Metaphorically, she represents the “strong” child in the family who habitually takes on the greatest proportion of family responsibility. Yet, with that responsibility often comes a lot of stress.
If you have a child in your family who fits this description, it might seem like a no-brainer to name them as the trustee, agent under a power of attorney, or even the executor of your will. However, try to be conscious of the possibility that doing this might put on enough pressure that your strong family member will, as Luisa sings, “tip, tip, tip till you just go pop.” Instead of overburdening one individual, consider distributing responsibilities among multiple willing parties.
Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
You may come away from watching Encanto feeling both entertained and inspired about the legacy you want to leave for your children and grandchildren. If so, contact our experienced estate planning attorneys who can help make you aware of the various options for making your plan as sound as possible. To get started with the process, contact us to schedule a consultation.
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