What the Movie “Knives out” get right and wrong about estate planning?

What The Movie ‘Knives Out’ Gets Right (And Wrong) About Estate Planning

Share This Post:

One of the amazing hits of the 2019 movie season has been the fantastic movie Knives Out. With a star-studded cast such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, including Marvel’s Chris Evans, it is a thrilling movie to watch.

In fact, both moviegoers and critics are connecting with the fun whodunit that has reeled in over $70 million dollars at the box office and several award nominations.

However, the main purpose of the story is a topic most American’s wouldn’t find cool—the world of estate planning. That is, unless the estate planning involves the wealthy.

Knifes Out: A little Summary

In the amazing movie, the patriarch of a wealthy family, Harlan Thrombey played by Christopher Plummer, is founded dead. Just before his untimely death, he changed his estate plan. While the movie investigates the multiple twists and turns to determine who might be liable for his death, there are some important scenes that sheds some light on estate planning concepts, including contesting a will, undue influence, and the slayer statute. These are issues moviegoers might want to understand in relation to their personal estate plans.

The will reading

One of the most dramatic scenes of the 2019 movie is the gathering of the Thrombey family at their dad’s estate to hear the reading of the will.  In a wood paneled library, the state lawyer sits behind the patriarch’s desk and reads out the content of the document. The importance of the scene is highlighted when Daniel Craig’s character explains that the will reading is a performance of “a tax return by a community theater.”

While the reading of the will remains an important scene of the movie, it should not be expected that when an individual die, this is how the process plays out. There is actually no will reading in real life.

Will contest

But while the reading of the will is more faction than fact, there exist some components that ring very true in the estate planning realm. When things don’t go well for the Thrombey family in the patriarch’s estate plan, the family swiftly considers contesting the will. But exactly how common do people contest a will?

Contesting a will is very common. And the reason for this action is due to an increased willingness by people to challenge estate plans.

This is due in part to heighted longevity. Often estate plans haven’t been updated to address modifications in the family. In cases where the testator has an illness like dementia, there is a huge possibility that they may be taken advantage of. The normal outcome during a will contest is some form of settlement.

Undue influence is a red flag

One of the most common causes of action when a will is contested is that of undue influence. In the movie, given that Marta the caretaker becomes the lone beneficiary under the will, this terms get discarded about quite early on by the Thrombey family when discussing the will contest

In the movie, the family blames Marta of exercising undue influence on Harlan Thrombey. While it may seem unfair to the movie viewers to attack the caretaker, it is a common fact pattern in undue influence and can be considered as a red flag.

Need an estate planning attorney?

Planning an estate can be a complicated process. It involves a lot of paperwork and legal documents like power of attorney, trust, will, etc. Thus, if you want to plan your estate the right way, it is important that you contact a professional.

An estate planning attorney can help you in several ways. This professional can help you plan your estate and help you create the necessary estate planning documents. If you need to update your estate plan, this professional can be of help as well. Also, if you have concerns or questions, contacting an estate planning attorney is the best way to find answers.

We boast of competent estate planning attorneys who can help you navigate the tough estate planning process. Simple get in touch with our office so we can offer you or your loved ones our professional services.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group.

Got a Problem? Consult With Us

For Assistance, Please Give us a call or schedule a virtual appointment.