One of the most savory parts of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition is for us to go see a movie after we gorge ourselves. This way my father gets three generations of ‘crazy kids’ out of the house for a moment of peace. There are about twelve of us in all and choosing a movie can be problematic. One year my brother chose “The Road” and when we exited the theater in a shell-shocked stupor, he refused to take any grief about his unappetizing selection. I can still hear him say “What is it about post-apocalyptic that you didn’t understand?” Actually, the only understanding we had was that Viggo Mortensen, aka Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings, was in it. Still, there have been some years where the selection was a hit across the generations (Harvey Milk was a winner for our family, since it took place in San Francisco, where my parents courted and my brother and I were born).
This year we saw the latest George Clooney, “The Descendants.” And I have to say, its right up there with Harvey. I recommend it to anyone, especially to those who are part of a trust (as beneficiary, grantor, trustee or advisor). Trusts are a balancing act between the grantors and the living beneficiaries, and this movie poignantly explores that question in paradise. Set on the island of Kauai, the film portrays a fictional family that has lived there for generations near undeveloped land held in trust. Within the family, there is a conflict of whether or not to sell their ancestral land. The decision is ultimately that of one trustee (well-played by George Clooney), who is also a beneficiary.
This movie is both thought-provoking and visually stunning. As for my brother, he loved it. This year, he declared the movie “believable” and “heartfelt.” Looks like we had the same understanding! On a side note, if you want to learn more about trusts and the fiduciary duty of trustees, I highly recommend you read “Why Being Fickle about your Fiduciary is a Good Thing”.