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Higher taxes. Lower exemptions. Fewer options. Are your ready for 2021?

Is Your Estate Plan “Procrustean”?

May 19, 2021

Paul S. Labiner

Paul Labiner


I want to teach you a new word today. The word is: Procrustean.

In order to learn what this word means, we need to know where it came from, so let’s take a trip back to Ancient Greece!

In Greek mythology, there is a roguish character named Procrustes, who lived along the road from Athens to Eleusis, where the Eleusinian Mysteries were performed. As travelers passed by his house, he would offer them a warm meal and a place to sleep.

Unfortunately, Procrustes only had one spare bed. Worse still, he was a stickler for exactitude: He had to make sure that each person fit into the bed perfectly. So, if the passer-by happened to be too short, Procrustes would smash him with his hammer to make him taller. If the traveler was a bit too tall, he would cut off the person’s legs to squish him into the bed.

Neither of these situations ended well for the traveler, obviously.

Procrustean (adj.)

[ proh-kruhs-tee-uhn ]

1: marked by arbitrary often ruthless disregard of individual differences or special circumstances;

2. forcing conformity by violent or arbitrary means.

Avoid Ill-Fitting Planning Strategies

You might be asking yourself, “What does a crazy blacksmith from Greek myth have to do with my estate planning?” Well, this brings us to our word of the day!

Procrustean means “forcing conformity by arbitrary means.” In particular, a Procrustean bed is a concept used to describe any predetermined standard to which rigid adherence is forced.

So, imagine you and your assets are travelers on the road to Eleusis. Do you want to run into Procrustes and his infamous bed, or would you rather meet up with an “Anti-Procrustes” who helps you build your own bed from scratch that fits you perfectly? In other words, do you want an estate plan that forces you to conform to it or the other way around?

Save a Dollar Now, Lose a Thousand (or more) Later

A fill-in-the-blank document downloaded from the internet is a Procrustean bed into which you will have to distend or squish your plans for your estate and assets.

Although you may be tempted to use various online resources to create a will or other documents on your own, these templates will not and can not provide the protections you need to keep your assets and wealth truly safe. The money you may save on the frontend will be dwarfed by the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars you could lose later because of ineffective and deficient estate plans.

You have to remember that an estate plan is not one-size-fits-all. You, your assets, your family situation are unique, and your estate plan must be tailor-made to you and your goals. At the end of the day, you’ll never be able to implement nuanced and comprehensive estate planning strategies that will allow for an efficient and effective transfer of wealth by this means.

Everything Is Connected

What we call an estate plan is really an intertwined nexus of documents and instruments that protects your assets in the present and ensures a safe and secure transition of your wealth to future generations.

Part and parcel to a comprehensive estate plan is a systematic and objective discussion about the best planning strategies to achieve your unique goals. An experienced estate planning attorney can be your Anti-Procrustes that will guide you in the discussion of the key issues and create a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your circumstances and wishes.

Start Planning for Your Future

Let us be your Anti-Procrustes. Our Financial Legacy System will address these key parameters and issues; we will look at the choices and decisions that families and individuals must make to protect their wealth and assets now and in the future.

We know the estate planning process is intimidating to most people, which is why so many turn to free templates or downloadable forms. But having an estate plan that is built around your unique asset portfolio, family dynamics, and financial goals is critical to ensuring that your financial legacy is secure and that your family and assets are protected. We work hard to educate our clients and provide clear compassionate counsel to families on all their estate planning needs.

Don’t let Procrustes force you into his bed. Call us today at 561-998-2362 or take our Estate Planning Quiz to find out how you could benefit from proactive planning.

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