I recently read this New York Times article on the family in-fighting over the estate of the late Merton Simpson.   Mr. Simpson was a painter and pioneering champion of African art who accumulated a collection said to be worth millions of dollars.  The story is sad, for sure.  It is also a reminder for all of us of the value of family and of having clearly spelled out wishes to help guide our chosen representatives in carrying on our legacy.  I encourage you to read the entire article – it’s not very long.

It also brings to mind something I always strongly encourage each of my clients to do – talk to others about your planning and what your wishes are for you legacy.  Many times the “others” you talk to will be family or very close friends, but it may also include close business associates, church leaders, or other people who you trust and know you well.  It’s often a great idea to record yourself sharing these thoughts.  That’s what I do with each client I work with – we have a Priceless Conversation.  Sadly, it seems that Mr. Simpson was taken advantage of by at least some of his family and friends.  Although it was a good thing that a guardian was appointed for him, it seems that the downward spiral in family and business relations was almost passed the point of resolution by that point.

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and charitable planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™.  This goes beyond merely planning for “stuff” – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you.  He focuses on estate, charitable, and asset protection planning for all generations (“young” and “experienced”), the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, and pet planning.  He enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients centered on their family’s values, insights, stories and experiences.