Tend to Your Estate Plan with a Green Thumb

Gardens are a form of autobiography. ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993
Spring is a wonderful time to start planting flower and vegetable gardens. It is fun to create your space and determine where each plant will grow. You have to prepare the ground of course: sometimes fertilize, rake, bring in some new top soil. Then it is off to the garden center to choose your flowers, trees, and seeds. When you finally arrive home you have the joy of getting your hands dirty and planting. Several months later you will be reaping the rewards of your hard work. But in the meantime you still must take some actions such as watering, weeding, cutting back.

I cultivate my garden, and my garden cultivates me. ~Robert Brault

A garden is a work in progress, and continually needs love.

Pot Garden
Pot Garden (Photo credit: Earthworm)

Creating an estate plan is much the same. You must first design your plan before you can plant it. You must constantly upkeep your plan so it doesn’t die. Estate plans become ineffective and won’t yield any flowers or vegetables without a little love and attention.

No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. ~Hugh Johnson

Individualized estate plans can provide for a person if they become incapacitated, and also can handle matters at an individual’s death. A detailed plan can provide for someone else to continue raising your children, take advantage of tax structures, distribute your assets, and retain family privacy. Each plan fits the owner’s needs and goals.

Sadly, many people who have planted their estate plan forget to maintain and upkeep the plan. It no longer produces blossoms, starts to wilt, and will slowly die. Many people make the fatal mistake of not maintaining their estate plan.
Despite the gardener’s best intentions, Nature will improvise. ~Michael P. Garafalo

What did Heath Ledger, Karen Carpenter and Michael Jackson have in common? They did not tend their garden.

  • Like many famous actors, Heath Ledger included a clause in his will that specifically excluded any child not named in the document. Many actors include such language to prevent a torrent of paternity claims.

Unfortunately Heath not update his Will after he had his daughter Matilda Rose. And since he was not married to Michelle Williams at the time of his death, neither Michelle nor Matilda inherited any of his estate. Everything went to his parents.

  • Karen Carpenter was the winner of 3 Grammy’s and had 8 gold albums and 10 gold singles. She had an estate plan but did not plan for the payment of death taxes from her estate. Because her assets were mostly ill-liquid, her family had to sell most everything to pay for the taxes. This resulted a 58% decrease in her estate.


  • The “King of Pop” Michael Jackson established a trust as part of his estate plan, but did not re-title all of his assets into the trust, which is called “funding.” Millions of dollars of assets went through California’s very expensive probate process.

If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden. ~Robert Brault

An up-to date estate plan is an effective way to protect you and your loved ones when the unexpected happens. The question truly is, have you tended your garden to produce wonderful results with blossoming flowers and fresh vegetables? Or do you still have a dirt patch?

It’s spring. Please choose to plant and grow your estate plan this month.

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