The 2011 Academy Award winning film, The Descendants, tells the story of Max King, played by George Clooney, and his family after his wife is left in a coma following a boating accident. Though the relationship between Mr. King, his daughters, his wife, and his family takes a the bulk of the movie’s plot, there are several estate planning issues in the film that may be of interest to you if you are considering beginning your own planning efforts.
- Inherited wealth problems. As the descendants of a Hawaiian princess and a white Hawaiian banker, Mr. King and his relatives have inherited a substantial interest in a large piece of untouched Hawaiian land. However, Mr. King is very set on ensuring that neither he nor his daughters are spoiled by this wealth. He goes so far as to bring his own lunch to work everyday, and points out that he only spends what he earns through his income as an attorney. For many people with an estate plan, ensuring that their children are not spoiled by the sudden influx of wealth is a serious concern.
- Individual medical choices. Though her accident left her in a coma, Mr. King’s wife left behind a living will, also known as an advance medical directive. Though each state has its own laws governing living wills, they all essentially allow you to make your own medical decisions and put them in writing in case you’re ever left unable to speak for yourself. In the movie, Mrs. King’s advance directive dictated that in her medical condition she does not want to receive life sustaining artificial nutrition, and orderd her doctor and family members to let her expire.