Why the Knives May Come Out at Death
The box office success of the 2019 murder mystery Knives Out led to franchise status, with Glass Onion, the first sequel, released in late 2022. The original Knives Out featured whodunit intrigue surrounding the murder of a wealthy author and surprise changes to his will.
While Knives Out endeared itself to fans because of its interesting characters and dramatic plot twists, the more mundane topic of estate planning is central to the movie. In Knives Out, there are several common estate planning issues that may trigger real-life family drama fit for a Hollywood movie.
Estate Planning Issues in Knives Out
Knives Out begins with the death of Harlan Thrombey, an internationally famous novelist who has just celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday at his country mansion, surrounded by family. Detective Benoit Blanc has been anonymously hired to investigate the death, and several family members have a murder motive, including his son-in-law, his son, his grandson, and the widow of his late son.
It turns out that Harlan’s death was a suicide, but that is just one thread in a jumbled knot of family dysfunction. Drawn into the fray is Marta Cabrera, Harlan’s nurse and the sole beneficiary of his estate. The large inheritance is revealed at a dramatic will reading that, although used as a dramatic device, nonetheless raises real-world estate planning lessons.
Lesson 1: Do Not Assume That You Will Receive an Inheritance When Your Family Member Dies
Harlan is survived by two living children (Linda and Walt), a widowed daughter-in-law (Joni), and three grandchildren (Ransom; Joni’s daughter, Meg; and Walt’s son, Jacob). Each of his presumptive heirs received financial support from him to some extent. And they […]