All About Estates

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

I sat down to write this blog thinking I would write about a pithy planning idea that all readers would find fascinating.  Instead, the events of the past few days have compelled me to write about something quite different.  That is, the resilience of humans in the face of tragedy.  Many will be familiar with the events of the past few days, namely, the horrific crash of a transport truck with a bus carrying a small-town Saskatchewan hockey team en route to a playoff game.  This tragic event struck at the heart of the town, the province, the country and the world, but for me it had extra meaning.  That little city in Saskatchewan, Canada, is my home town.

Viewing the events as they unfolded from afar, I could not help but be moved by the incredible efforts that people went through to simply feel they were contributing in their own way.  It was hard not to admire their yeoman’s efforts to try to reduce the pain and suffering of all of those involved, despite their own.  The extent to which the community rallied around each other to offer food, shelter, comfort, and funding was quite astounding.  Reporters who travelled from afar to report on the incident could not help but comment on the graciousness of the community, and the extent to which people travelled, often great distances, to help.  Others felt the need to simply be near those affected by the tragedy as a show of support and solidarity.  Emotions certainly ran high. The world was moved by the efforts of those assisting, but to me, having grown up in that small city with many of those people, it all came as no surprise.

As advisors, we make our living trying to assist clients with planning for the future, firm in the belief that we can contemplate and make contingency plans for most things that might come their way.  This tragedy has reminded me that this is just not the case.  Life forces people to react and cope with matters that could never be contemplated, by even the most talented of soothsayers.  In some cases, these unforeseen circumstances bring out the worst in people; in others, the best. Thankfully, this situation is of the latter type.

While this commentary may seem to some like a doom and gloom piece at a time of year when we are all looking forward to spring, and the renewal and rebirth that it signifies, that is anything but its intent. Despite the great sadness I felt when I learned of the accident, I felt a renewed sense of optimism about the good in people, the selflessness that so many people exhibit toward others, and the notion that, together, people can accomplish much.  I know that I am not contributing to the typical professional literature on succession planning in writing this, and this is not what most of you expected to read when you started reading this blog. Nonetheless, I hope that you will indulge me in my need to offer comment on this event.  For some reason, it just seemed important.

About Maureen Berry
Maureen Berry is a partner in the Trusts, Wills, Estates and Charities group at Fasken. Maureen’s practice is focused on wills, estate planning, domestic and international trusts, private corporation taxation, and executive compensation. Maureen also advises charities and non-profit organizations. Working with Canadian and international families, firms, corporations and charitable organizations, she provides advice on all aspects of private client matters. She is a leading expert in the fields of tax law and estate planning. As an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, she teaches Advanced Estate Planning. Maureen has previously taught corporate tax and international tax at the University of Toronto and Western University, along with the Bar Admission course for up-and-coming lawyers.

1 Comment

  1. Joanne Stewart

    April 13, 2018 - 2:18 pm

    Thank you Malcolm for this wonderful piece. Yes, things happen in this world that we can not foresee but it’s comforting to hear of the many people that are willing to step foreword in times of need to help others. Makes all of us thankful that there are still many people on earth that are still very caring and compassionate to others.
    Missed seeing you at CAGP conference this week but looking forward to attending next year.

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