TRUTH OR FICTION? REPRESENTATIONS OF WEALTH DISPUTES IN TELEVISION, LITERATURE, AND FILM—AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTITIONERS AND CLIENTS
Producers, writers, and reporters have long been fascinated with high-stakes wealth, estate and trusts, and shareholder disputes. Whether tragic or comic, the drama between clients, families, business partners, as well as the sometimes stereotypical expectations of attorneys, can be irresistible from an entertainment perspective. But there can be implications regarding what clients expect of practitioners as a result of portrayals in everything from shows like “Succession” to the morning news. This year’s three-part, virtual seminar will allow you to examine the impact of a range of media portrayals, hear from colleagues and experts in the industry, and participate in thought-provoking discussions in a smaller group setting. And of course this year’s seminar would not be complete without our annual round of Ripped from the Case Law.
Session I | Panel: The Influence of News and Other Media on Client Expectations
Thursday, October 1 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. CT
Hear from a range of different stakeholders as they discuss a series of excerpts from news, television, and film that may or may not be accurate, but that are sure to shape both societal and client perceptions of a range of issues, from approaches to family business succession to what constitutes an effective “lawyer persona.”
Session II | Representations of Wealth Planning and Conflict in Film and Literature: What Can We Learn from Such Depictions?
Wednesday, October 7 | 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. CT
It is often said in the realm of wealth planning and conflict that “you can’t make this stuff up.” But can you? For our second session, participants will choose between four different fictional works to read or view in advance of October 7 for a unique interactive experience. Participants will join breakout sessions where they will discuss reactions to the works. Facilitators will provide a brief synopsis of the story and show key clips to introduce key moments and themes captured.
Breakout Option 1: “The Descendants”
Rent or watch via Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, or iTunes Store; or read the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings.
Kaui Hart Hemmings’ 2007 novel was adapted into a movie in 2011, starring George Clooney as Matt King, who lives with his family in Hawaii. After a tragic accident leaves his wife in a coma, he struggles both with the stipulation in his wife’s will that she be allowed to die with dignity as well as his relatives who are pressuring him to sell the family’s large land trust. The story evokes themes related to the inherent conflict created when fiduciary and beneficiary are the same person, the importance of selecting the right fiduciaries, and planning considerations related to the specific nature and value of different types or property.
Breakout Option 2: “Grand Budapest Hotel”
Rent or watch via Amazon Prime or iTunes Store.
This Wes Anderson film centers on the story M. Gustave, as told by his protégé, Zero. Gustave is the concierge at a high-class hotel, where he befriends many wealthy guests. One such guest, who was also Gustave’s lover, dies suddenly. She leaves a valuable painting to Gustave, but her family is suspicious and goes to great lengths (including murder and ski chases) to re-acquire the painting from Gustave. Themes include 1) how planners deal with a client—particularly with varied assets—who makes numerous estate plan changes; 2) whether Gustave was the sympathetic character portrayed, or an outsider who took advantage of the countess for financial gain, as perceived by the family; and 3) an extraordinary example of personal conflict and bad behavior in family disputes.
Breakout Option 3: “Knives Out”
Rent or watch via Amazon Prime or iTunes Store.
“Knives Out” is a classic murder mystery involving family members with competing motives for possibly killing the family patriarch, a famous murder mystery author. [Spoiler alert] “Knives Out” has an interesting plot twist where the decedent leaves all of his possessions to a non-family member. This decision leads to a salient scene in which all of the family members nervously sit around and discuss the ways one can contest a will. Central to the discussion are issues of lack of capacity and undue influence, as well as the necessity of a strong case if a will contest is to be successful. Additionally, discussion of the slayer rule ensues, as the disgruntled family speculates that the sole beneficiary’s potential involvement in the patriarch’s death may allow them to recover their stake in the family fortune.
Breakout Option 4: “Bleak House”
Read the novel by Charles Dickens, or rent or watch one of several film or television adaptations via Amazon Prime, BBC, Hulu, or iTunes Store.
Published in book form in 1853, Charles Dickens’ enduring classic, as well as its film and television adaptations, represent the standard-bearer for portraying the estate lawsuit that will never end. The novel aims its critique squarely on England’s Court of Chancery, where cases could drag on through decades of convoluted legal maneuvering. The story focuses on the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which, as the story opens, has already gone on for generations and has “become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means.” The story explores the impact that the courts have on individuals caught in its grips; at the same time, it provides a critique of some lawyerly (or not so lawyerly) practices, as well as a view into how the promise of wealth can end in various degrees of tragedy.
Session III | Ripped from the Case Law
Tuesday, October 13 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. CT
Explore society’s most unbelievable wealth disputes and some of the most prolific plots in literature, film, and television. Most importantly, see if you can tell the difference between real cases and events and the inventions of your hosts. Join us for an interactive hour of friendly competition focused on cases and stories, real and imagined, all of which may be hard to believe.
CLE and CTFA Accreditation
Robins Kaplan LLP will seek approval with Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Boards in California, Minnesota, and New York for 3.0 hours of standard credit. Robins Kaplan will also seek approval with the American Bankers Association (ABA) for 3.0 hours of CTFA credit.
Please register for one, two, or all three sessions using the form below.