Classic Cars Have Style; Classic Estate Plans – Not So Much!

Hello, my name is Kyle Krasa and I’m an estate planning attorney in Pacific Grove, California.

Today I’m sharing a picture of two cars parked outside of my office. On the left is my 1953 Chevy Bel Air, nicknamed Maybellene after the Chuck Berry song. On the right is my wife’s modern BMW 5-Series, nicknamed Alpsee after the lake in Bavaria, Germany. 

Why is an estate planning attorney sharing a picture of two cars? Well I think that cars make good analogies to estate plans. For example, I often have clients who bring me their existing estate plans and ask for my review and feedback.

Comparing most existing estate plans to the way that I typically put together an estate plan is a lot like comparing Maybellene to a modern car. Both are cars and both will get you from Point A to Point B. But, Maybellene lacks key safety features. Maybellene does not have ABS brakes, air bags, traction control, crumple zones, back-up cameras, lane-departure warning systems, or blind-spot detection. In fact, when Maybellene was new, she didn’t even have seatbelts! 

As a result, I only want to drive Maybellene if the conditions are perfect: the weather is clear, the roads are straight, there are no obstacles in my way, and I have no reason to slam on my brakes or swerve suddenly. If I have to perform any emergency maneuvers, I would much rather be behind the wheel of a modern car. 

Likewise, most existing estate plans will work out okay as long as the conditions are perfect. But life is messy and unpredictable and a good comprehensive estate plan will incorporate safety features such as asset and divorce protection for your beneficiaries, Medicaid planning provisions, standby Special Needs Trust provisions, and Trust Protector provisions. You can learn about these safety features by watching the other videos on my website.  

Now, one way that cars are very different from estate plans is despite the fact that Maybellene does not have safety features, she still has style and beauty. A classic estate plan, on the other hand, has no redeeming qualities.