Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Death Goes to the Movies

Bleak House



As an estate planning and probate attorney, this is why I think death is so entertaining! My favorite movies that deal with estate planning or probate issues.

      1. Bleak House. This 2005 BBC production of Charles Dicken's novel is stunning--keeps you on the edge of your seat. Gillian Anderson plays Lady Deadlock, and Charles Dance is brilliant as the no-nonsense attorney Mr. Tulkinghorn. "Jarndyce v. Jarndyce": the most famous probate case in history. BBC-Bleakhouse;

      2. The first few minutes of Superman Returns. What a great scene when Lex Luther (Kevin Spacey) finances his evil schemes by ripping off the billion dollar estate of his aunt as she lies on her deathbed. The image of Lex holding Aunt's shaking hand as she signs the final documents giving him everything is priceless. Even better is the scene of Lex walking out of the room and snubbing every family vulture hovering in the house. Educational on so many levels, not to mention just good entertainment.

Part mentioned starts about 5:25

      3. Joseph. This is the great 1995 TNT production of Joseph in Egypt. Ben Kingsley, Paul Mercurio, Martin Landau, Lesley Ann Warren. Epic in its cinemetography, beautiful music, great acting, Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Miniseries. The scene among the brothers when Joseph reveals himself is the most emotionally moving scene in film I have witnessed. A great film about inadequate business succession planning, lack of communications, family jealousies, and--in this case (but rarely in cases I litigate)--family renewal, forgiveness, and redemption.

      4. The Ultimate Gift. A fun movie about a grandfather who sets up his estate plan by mandating that his selfish grandson fulfill twelve tasks before receiving his inheritance. James Garner, Drew Fuller, Brian Dennehy, Bill Cobbs, Abigail Breslin. Shows the power a Grantor has in using his or her wealth to teach beneficiaries the values important to him or her. Entertaining and thought provoking.

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