I keep writing about basketball lately. Perhaps I do so because it is high school basketball playoff time, and I am refereeing the playoffs at this time. Or, perhaps it is because the Denver Nuggets are playing at a high level and I enjoy watching the Denver Nuggets play. I can appreciate how the Denver Nuggets are playing basketball as a fan, but also as an official and a coach. Not everyone watches, or approaches basketball the same way, and the perspectives of a fan, an official, a coach, or even a player are different. Fans tend to watch the ball, as do coaches, while officials may not always watch the ball. Although each group may argue the point, no one approach to watching basketball is superior to the others in all ways. Instead, by understanding the different perspectives on basketball, you can get a different appreciation for the game.
As a current basketball official, I find my job is to watch the game to keep the game fair and safe for both teams. I have partners with whom I officiate, so I am not watching everything at once. This sometimes means that I don’t see what happened on a particular play. Coaches, players, and fans tend to not understand how that can happen. They openly question how I could not have seen a play, but they don’t seem to understand that I was watching something else, as was my responsibility. I don’t begrudge players, fans, and coaches for wanting a well-officiated game – I want that as much as they do, if not more so, but my perspective is different. A well-played and entertaining basketball game requires all parts and perspectives, and if one is missing, it isn’t nearly as much fun!
Estate planning also has many different actors who have different perspectives. A client wants to make sure their assets go where the client wants them to go when the client passes away. An estate planning attorney wants to make sure things are done within the law, and to ensure the client’s wishes are carried out. Courts make the rules as to how this should all happen, and enforce the rules when necessary. Each different perspective is essential to creating a good estate plan, and no one part can be ignored or omitted. Just like a basketball game needs all of the perspectives to work, so does an estate plan.
Players Play and You Decide
Some players see a basketball game as a contest of individual skills and abilities. This is absolutely correct way to view the game, as a player. Not every player always sees the bigger picture of winning the game as a team, but that is OK. These players want to show how skilled they are at shooting, passing, rebounding, or playing defense. To them, the game is a contest of skill between teams, and the more skilled a player is, the more likely a team is to be triumphant in a game.
Player skill is a large focus of players, and rightfully so. In estate planning, you are the player. You want to have your wishes and desires carried out, and that is absolutely the correct way to view the game. Unlike an estate plan is not a contest of skill between players, so the analogy is not perfect, but your wishes and desires are the essential part of an estate plan. Players have skill, and you have wishes and desires for your assets…without these things, there would be no point in playing the game, or setting up an estate plan.
Coaches Help Players Succeed and Estate Planning Attorneys Help You Succeed
Player skill can only go so far. A collection of players on a team need to have their skills combined in such a way that the skills complement each other and create a better outcome as a team, rather than individual efforts by the players on the basketball floor together. A basketball coach works to have the correct combination of players on the playing floor at any given time to create the best result. Basketball coaching is different from playing, and even some of the greatest players have never become great coaches, even though you might think the greatest players could be the greatest coaches. The skills are simply different.
One of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game, Michael Jordan, never became a coach. Michael Jordan’s teammate, Steve Kerr, has become a highly successful coach of the Golden State Warriors, winning multiple championships as a coach. Often, the best coaches were not the best players, but rather learned about the game by watching the best players on their team, or in their league, and learning about how to let players achieve their highest and best potential. It is possible to be both a great player and a great coach, but not always.
A basketball coach wants to win the game, and to combine the skills and efforts of players to achieve this goal. An estate planning attorney wants to take your wishes and desires and convey them in such a way that the desires are carried out after your passing.
An estate planning attorney needs to combine your desires and legal requirements to achieve the your desired outcome. A basketball coach needs to combine players and skills to be the best within the rules of the game.
So an estate planning attorney and a coach are quite similar in what they want. To achieve a your desired outcome, or to win the basketball game. Achieving your desired outcome is certainly a win for the estate planning attorney, even if winning in estate planning does not create a losing team, which does happen in basketball.
Basketball Officials Enforce the Rules, Attorneys Help You Stay Within the Rules
In a basketball game, there are established rules. The rules are not established by the players, coaches, or officials. Instead, there are rules committees, or groups that create the rules of the game. The rules govern how the game is to be played. In estate planning, the state legislature or courts create the rules, and everyone needs to follow the rules. In basketball, officials are tasked with enforcing the rules. Officials will watch the players during the game, and will enforce penalties for players (and coaches) who do not follow the rules. Penalties exist to keep the game within the rules, and officials are the designated enforcers of the rules on a basketball court. Fans, players, and coaches do not always agree with the officials, but this is part of a basketball game.
Estate planning attorneys are a bit like officials – in that estate planning attorneys are required to act as officers of the court – and to ensure their clients are within the rules. Sometimes you may not like a rule, or want to follow a rule, but estate planning attorneys help you understand how to achieve a client’s objectives and desires within the rules.
Estate planning attorneys are not the final arbiters of rules, like basketball officials are, but estate planning attorneys are expected to inform you of the rules and stay within them. If an estate plan is far outside of the rules, then a court can step in and enforce the rules, and mete out penalties, possibly even ignoring an estate plan’s wishes and desires, so it is much better to be within the rules.
Officiating is different from playing or from coaching. Officials are much less concerned with player skills, coaches who combine player skills in a certain way, and don’t really care who wins in the end. Officials simply want each team to have a fair chance in the game, and allow coaches and players to decide who wins. In an estate plan, the estate planning attorney wants your wishes to be carried out, as that is a win for both the estate planning attorney, and you, and there don’t need to be any losers in an estate plan.
Everything Needs to be There for the Best Basketball and Estate Planning
Of course, a basketball game that did not have players, coaches, officials, or fans, would be lacking something. During the COVID-19 pandemic, high school teams played games without any fans, with players, coaches, and officials wearing masks. It was a weird experience. Without fans, whatever players said was easier to hear. As a result, officials ended up calling more unsporting technical fouls, which strained the relationship between players and officials, and coaches and officials, too. Basketball games, especially on the professional level, are played to entertain the fans. Having no fans showed how missing a fan perspective could alter how much the game was enjoyed by players, coaches, and officials. No part, or perspective, can be missing from a basketball game and have the game be as enjoyable to watch, or participate in, as if everything necessary is present.
An estate plan also needs all perspectives to work. The client needs to have wishes and desires, the estate planning attorney needs to work to make those desires happen, and everyone needs to play within the rules to make sure everything happens. If one perspective is missing, the estate plan may not work, and that would be a terrible loss. Unlike in a basketball game between two teams, estate plans don’t have to have winners and losers, but can create a win for everyone involved. If you want to work with me to create a winning estate plan that brings everything together, you can make an appointment below.