All About Estates

Estate Planning on the Big Screen

Today’s blog is written by my colleague, Paul Nazareth, Manager, Philanthropic Advisory Services, Scotia Private Client Group.

Your world is nothing more than the tiny things you’ve let behind, a lyric from the award winning song written for the movie, Gran Torino. The legendary actor turned director, Clint Eastwood, wears both hats in this movie – and what a story teller he has become!

If you are thinking about estate planning, aging and family, and the realities of the attendant discussions, this movie will surely hit a nerve. It’s no candy-coated romantic comedy, this is Dirty Harry after all. The film earns its ‘R’ rating with a buffet of 1950’s racial slurs, blue collar working man banter and violence. You know, Clint Eastwood stuff.

The film opens at the funeral service of the wife of Walt Kowalski, a cranky old Korean War Vet. Before the sun sets on the wake, Walt’s kids have asked for his house, car and furniture. When his kids talk to him about moving to a ‘nice place for people like you’, he’s practically shaking with anger – depending on your age, you may be shaking too.

I have worked in planning and philanthropy for over a decade and have had the ‘personal legacy’ conversation hundreds of times. Although Eastwood’s character has trouble connecting with his own kids, he finds a strong connection with a young ethnic neighbour who, like a younger Walt, is willing to work hard for an opportunity with humility and determination. Disappointed parents who don’t see the traits they most respect in their children, sometimes choose to give their hard-earned funds to charities and the community in order to further the values they feel so strongly about.

Apologies to my colleagues in the estate and trust world for the Hollywood ‘reading of the Will’ scene. Apologies to all readers as the payoff at the end is bitter. Notwithstanding this is a powerful and thought provoking movie.

The title song track opens with your story is nothing more than what you see or what you’ve done – if you’re working on turning your story into an estate plan – this is a must watch.

About Elaine Blades