Forbes financial writer Martin Shenkman makes a dated – though still relevant, for some – reference in a recent article on estate planning to a storied fictional family from yesteryear.
That mom, dad and two sons comprise the Cleavers, who most baby boomers will remember intimately well as perhaps THE sitcom family of the late 1950s through early 1960s. They live on eternally through television reruns.
The bottom line with the Cleavers was clear, notes Shenkman: It was the “Archetype American family,” with decision making being “historically simple and patriarchal.”
Moreover, it was deemed typical for the times. A family was decidedly nuclear, with a father and mother destined to remain wedded permanently, coupled with one or more biological children.
How simple was that from an estate planning perspective?
Shenkman contrasts the Cleaver reality with what is operative in the American family realm today. The classic nuclear unit still exists, of course, though it now reportedly prevails in only about one-third of all families nationally. What has occurred over the years is dynamic and complex change in the family sphere.
To wit: Legions of parents now divorce and remarry. Many of those new unions are blended families, marked by homes full of biological children, stepchildren and newly born members. High numbers of American families now have unmarried partners at the helm. Many of them are single-parent units. Others have extended relatives in the mix. Grandparents are in charge in some homes.
Compared to the Cleaver era, things are now wondrously intricate and complex.
Understandably, that has wrought significant changes in the estate planning universe. We implicitly note that on our website at the proven Middle Tennessee estate planning and administration law firm of Russ Cook & Associates when we underscore every family’s “unique circumstances.”
A central truth relevant to estate planning today is that it requires in every instance a closely considered and tightly tailored strategy that will maximally promote unique and valued clients’ best interests.
America today is teeming with markedly diverse and ever-evolving families. Proven estate planning attorneys are focused like never before on helping them realize important planning goals and take fullest advantage of legal opportunities.