If there is one thing 2020 has taught all of us, is that life can be very uncertain. Plans made may never happen, and it is always best to be prepared for the unexpected. Some individuals may not have the opportunity to spend the holidays with their loved ones this year. Every moment we are living is a gift and should never be taken for granted. A favorite holiday book and movie written by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, always teaches us the lesson about the importance of family, friends, love, and generosity. The main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, was a miserable, greedy, rich old man who hated family, friends, Christmas, happiness, and charity. It can more than likely be assumed that initially Mr. Scrooge had no interest in sharing his wealth with anyone and had no estate planning documents created due to his greed. Unlike some individuals, Mr. Scrooge was given the opportunity to change his life before it was too late. This holiday season make sure to not be a Scrooge and give the best gift that you can to your family by creating an estate plan. Having a proper estate plan implemented not only creates a sense of peace and security for yourself, but for the people you love as well. If you feel as if you can relate to being like Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge this holiday season, please read below for our best recommended steps in creating the best estate plan.
Life of Ebenezer Scrooge
The novel or movie for, A Christmas Carol, begins by portraying how Ebenezer Scrooge’s life was prior to his redemption. Mr. Scrooge was a greedy elderly man who owned a “counting-house” which was the term used for an accountant’s office in England. Because Mr. Scrooge owned a business, one of the most important estate planning documents that he should have had prepared would have been a trust document. There are multiple types of trust documents, however, if Mr. Scrooge did have a trust created before the visits from the ghosts, it would have been more than likely an irrevocable living trust enlisting himself as the only beneficiary. Unlike a revocable trust, once funded, an irrevocable trust cannot be changed. Another reason why Mr. Scrooge would have had an irrevocable trust created is because the trust can be used for asset protection. Due to his greedy nature, he would do anything to protect his business as A Christmas Carol portrayed when he complained that it was a theft to pay his employee, Bob Cratchit, for the holiday.
Ghost of Christmas Past
Ebenezer Scrooge was visited first by the ghost of Christmas Past. The ghost and Mr. Scrooge, invisible to others around, revisit his past Christmases from his childhood to his earlier years. The ghost first takes Mr. Scrooge on a journey throughout his childhood Christmases where he sheds a tear when he realizes how he always felt as if he was neglected by his family. Mr. Scrooge then is shown scenes from his younger years, as he was entering adulthood. The scenes included him working as an apprentice for a merchant named Fezziwig, who taught him the lessons of hospitality and generosity. The scene then starts to reveal how Mr. Scrooge started to become greedy with his time and money after being left alone by his fiancé, Belle, who realized that his love for money would always be a barrier for him to love her. If the marriage between Belle and Ebenezer fell through, the best estate plan document that should have been created after their marriage would be a Last Will and Testament. A Last Will and Testament is a legal document where an individual may list their specific wishes or demands for their remaining assets (or belongings) if anything happens to them. Mr. Scrooge would be able to list who he would like to inherit any of his assets, whether it was the home he shared with Belle, his business, or his remaining bank accounts. However, Ebenezer may have obtained no interest in creating any estate plan documents due to his increasing greed developing throughout his younger years that ended up leaving him alone. If Ebenezer Scrooge already had a Last Will and Testament document created, he would have had to revise his document to remove Belle as a beneficiary.
Ghost of Christmas Present
The second ghost that visits Ebenezer Scrooge was the ghost of Christmas Present. The ghost takes Mr. Scrooge on journey throughout the city of London and shows him the way Christmas will be spent throughout different homes. One of the homes he visits is his own employee, Bob Cratchit’s, home. Bob Cratchit’s large family did not have a lot of wealth, however, they were happy and satisfied with what they had as they were preparing their Christmas dinner together. Mr. Scrooge also noticed that Bob Cratchit had a son named, Tiny Tim, who was crippled. Despite his circumstances, Tiny Tim was a spirited, jolly boy who was overjoyed with the happiness of Christmas. Mr. Scrooge started to feel sympathetic towards Bob Cratchit’s family when he notices the happiness they all shared among themselves despite their circumstances. The ghost then takes Mr. Scrooge to visit his nephew, Fred’s, house where he was hosting a Christmas party with friends and family. Ebenezer Scrooge witnesses the celebratory event with fun-filled dancing and games, and at one point even starts to realize that he was enjoying the Christmas party himself when he had to beg the ghost to remain at the party a little while longer. In this present moment in Ebenezer Scrooge’s life, as the book and movie display at the start, he was a greedy, selfish man who was unaware of the situation others faced in their own lives. It can be assumed that he only thought about himself as the sole beneficiary for any of his remaining assets, however, after being visited by the ghost of Christmas Present, Mr. Scrooge started to gather a different aspect of life.
Ghost of Christmas Future
The third and final ghost that visits Ebenezer Scrooge is the ghost of Christmas Future. The visit from the ghost of Christmas Future frightens Mr. Scrooge by not speaking, only leading and pointing him to different scenes. The scenes that Scrooge views cause him to realize that he needs to transform his life. The ghost shows scenes of Bob Cratchit’s family mourning the loss of his son, Tiny Tim, along with revealing the fact that his family have become bankrupt. Mr. Scrooge then is shown a scene where some businessmen were discussing how to handle a mysterious rich man’s remaining assets after his passing while some beggars were trading the dead man’s personal belongings for cash. The ghost takes Scrooge through town, stopping outside his business and as he looks inside through the window, he notices his business is occupied by a stranger who had different furniture. This scene started to creep under Scrooge’s skin, and he started pleading with the ghost to reveal who the dead man was as the horror started to set in. The ghost took Mr. Scrooge to a church graveyard and Scrooge creeped up to the grave that the ghost was pointing to. Ebenezer Scrooge’s name was on the grave. There was no one mourning his passing, and the complete realization of the ghost visits became apparent to him. If Ebenezer Scrooge continued to live his life as a greedy, selfish old man, the outcome would have been as the scenes from the ghost of Christmas Future’s visit. Scrooge’s remaining assets or belongings would be overtaken by strangers, businessmen, and beggars. It was evident from this scene that the old Ebenezer Scrooge had no wishes to create an estate plan, however, after the visits from the ghost of Christmas Past, the ghost of Christmas Present, and the ghost of Christmas Future, Ebenezer Scrooge obtained a high interest in creating an estate plan. One of the first documents Mr. Scrooge would want to have is a Revocable Trust. By creating a revocable trust, Scrooge could list his remaining assets into the trust and state who he would like to list as beneficiaries to his trust if he passes away. Mr. Scrooge could list Fred, Bob Cratchit, or anyone else as the beneficiaries in his trust. Because Scrooge owned a business, creating a revocable trust would be the best estate plan in order to avoid having to open a court case when his beneficiaries inherit his remaining assets. Having the trust created would also not allow a stranger to take over his business as was shown by the ghost of Christmas Future. Once Ebenezer Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning, he immediately decides to take action and transform his life becoming a new person.
This holiday season make sure to not be a Scrooge and decide to give your family the best gift you can by creating an estate plan before it is too late. The key lesson to take away from the story A Christmas Carol is that not all of us may have the chance to be visited by ghosts who show us scenes of how our lives was in the past, how they are in the present, or scenes from our lives in the future. Before his transformation, Ebenezer Scrooge’s future was dark, desolate, and dreary. He decided to take action the day after by buying a large Christmas turkey for the Cratchit family, donating money to charity, and visiting his nephew, Fred’s, Christmas party. Scrooge wanted to make sure that his future outcome shown to him did not become a reality which is why it can also be assumed that he decided to create an estate plan as well, making sure to share his wealth with his employee and family.
There are many benefits with having an estate plan created and one of the most important aspects is that it causes a sense of peace and security that your remaining assets won’t be given to random strangers as was shown in A Christmas Carol. Contact The Probate Law Firm today to get started with gifting your family an estate plan that is recognized as valid within the courts of Florida.