"Here's your next column". That was the subject line on an email that my wife recently sent to me. Since I'm always looking for a topic for my column I excitedly opened the email.
The email contained a link to a Yahoo finance column. When I clicked on the link, I was greeted with the following headline "A woman's will provides funds for trusty houseplant upon her death."
Twenty-one years ago this month I graduated from law school. I have been doing this a long time but I have never had a client ask me to plan for a house plant. Heck, I've never even heard of anything like that.
For those of you that haven't read about this lady, she has a 43-year-old houseplant that she describes as "her girl." The houseplant will apparently outlive her, so she has made a provision in her will for it. She didn't leave the plant a pile of money or anything, but she did designate who will receive the plant. She also left the friend who will receive the plant $5,000 to use to care for it. She has other plants, but she is apparently less concerned about their well being since she didn't make any provisions for them.
Now I'm having a little bit of fun with this nice lady, and I probably shouldn't. I think this lady's situation is a great reminder that no two estate plans are the same. Everyone of us have our own interests, concerns and goals. Our needs are as individual as we are.
For example, when Trish and I first married and moved into our home, a college kid came to our door selling knives. Even though I had only been out of law school a few years and I wasn't making a whole lot of money, I wanted to buy something to help the kid out. I looked down the list that he gave me and selected a pizza cutter – a $35 pizza cutter.
When the pizza cutter arrived, I showed my wife my new acquisition. Let's just say she wasn't as excited about it as I was, but you know who was? My son Colin. And because he told me it was cool, and of course to take a little dig at my wife, I inserted a provision into our trust instructing the trustee to distribute the pizza cutter to Colin. Ha. Let's see her cut a pizza when I'm gone.
I think that all of this is a good reminder that no matter what your concerns are, there is a solution. Whether it's making sure your house plant is taken care of or making sure that your $35 pizza cutter goes to your son, your attorney will draft an estate plan specifically designed to address your needs. So don't be afraid to talk to your attorney no matter how unusual your goals may be. If your goals can be legally accomplished, a good attorney will make sure that you are covered.