Estate Law Center
Serving Clients Throughout Virginia
Call Today


Boulders, and Streams, and Jumps! Oh, yes!!!

By: Attorney Katherine S. Breckenridge, Esq.

Published September 22, 2015

Estate Planning

Parking Straight Ahead! How many times have you seen a road sign, felt the anticipation of finally ending up at your destination spot, and then once you’ve arrived, wished you could recapture the journey? Or, maybe even scripted the chapters in a different manner?

A few weeks ago, I found myself deep in the woods, moving at what felt like break-neck speed, with ravines to the left, a tight turn approaching on the right, and a fallen tree straight across the narrow, dirt path. The scenario did not seem ideal for one who likes to remain in control, to plan for the foreseeable and the unforeseeable possibilities, and to guard against risk and liabilities.

I was thankful, breathed an audible sigh of relief, and had a quick and very descriptive conversation with nobody but the trees (makes one wonder what is heard in the forest when no one is listening), when the sign post on the bike path read, “PARKING,” and the arrow gave the directional to the closest parking lot. My instinct was, “get me there, and fast!”

“Wait a minute; not so fast,” I cautioned myself, as I held on tight to the handlebars of my mountain bike and tried to maneuver down the steep, rocky grade of the bike path. Though my son was now nowhere in sight, as one of the bikers on the trail described, my “flying son” was now yards upon yards ahead of me. After waiting patiently for me to catch up, and just moments before my son took off (again) in a spurt of energy, he had been sharing his story with me.

I realized at that moment, no longer was I the storyteller, of L. Frank Baum’s, Wizard of Oz’s, “Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my!” My son was now the storyteller. His version was, “Boulders, and streams, and jumps! Oh, yes!!!” Awesome parenting moment!

The realization that my son was sharing a part of his world with me, made me wish I had the ability to stop time. Precious time. How had time advanced so quickly that my story chapters were somewhat dimmed, and his were rising to the forefront?

As a parent, we celebrate when our children grasp the tools to develop and tell of their own productive and exciting adventures. And, hallelujah when they choose to share some of their storylines with us!

Though the chapters of our lives may ebb and flow based upon our age, the needs of our family, our careers, our bucket list choices, and the audiences, the importance of what we share at two pinnacles of our lives, seems to have an eternal effect; so, write wisely.

The first being what we tell others by our actions and words. That thought reminds me of the lyrics in a song by Sara Groves, Tent in the Center of Town, “There’s a tent in the center of town and the people are losing their frowns cause they think they’ll go there and see lions and bears in the tent in the center of town . . . There’s a tent in the center of town where the people can gather around who wouldn’t step foot in a church but who aren’t afraid of a good news crusade in the tent in the center of town.”

I pray that as we reach out to others, our actions and words are not hindered, and that they tell the story of the good news crusade, helping to build a welcome to those in our community who are in varied levels of preparation. So many need a listening ear, someone to come alongside them as they adapt to changing expectations, and someone to understand how special they are – that they have something to contribute to our community.

Second, what one leaves in writing for interpretation at the end of one’s life, often has the opportunity to tell a final story. As an estate planning attorney, I see so many variations of Wills and Trusts, each reflective of what has transpired during the Testator’s or Grantor’s life. Often, family relations are harmonious, giving joy to the Testator or Grantor in the writing of a Will and/or Trust. There are times when relations may be acrimonious, and the drafting reflects those situations.

I encourage others to memorialize their intentions for their assets. If one does not, they may not be able to script their estate story the way they intend, and their assets will be distributed as set forth by the Commonwealth.

If you are anticipating a “perfect ending” as you see it, and controlled by you, whether that means you have wonderful family relationships, strained family relationships, or no relationships at all, I encourage you to plan ahead; write as many incredible chapters as you can throughout life, and prepare for a last chapter that is reflective of your story; perhaps considering it a sequel at arms-length.