The Elrod Firm


The Tale of Three Joggers

It seems to me that people run for a wide variety of reasons. When questioned by curious observers on his famous run across the country, Forrest Gump said he “just felt like running.” I’m sure Forrest is not alone. Surely there are others who run just because they feel like it, right? But I wonder if Forrest may have been trying to run off some steam, too, considering Jenny, the love of his life, disappeared on him the very morning he started his epic journey. 

Others seem to run because they feel they need an excuse to be outside enjoying the weather. That can’t include many Arkansans in July and August, but we do have some pretty nice days in the other, less stifling months. Of course, there’s the group that takes running far more seriously, the ones with all the right clothes, shoes, and gear. These are the runners who track their routes on their devices, post about them on Facebook, and (surely unintentionally) make the rest of us feel guilty. 

Just as there are all sorts of runners in the world, there is wide variety when it comes to planners, too. Unfortunately, one of the easiest ways to categorize planners is by where they went wrong. To see what I mean, consider the tale of three joggers.  

The first jogger set out to run off some stress. He had a beautiful wife, two great kids, an amazing house…but no estate plan. He was worried, and he knew he needed to do something, but he didn’t know where to start. He assumed it would all be very complicated, so he kept putting it off even though he knew his delays put his family at risk. This jogger failed to plan.

The second jogger was not stressed at all. She was blissfully ignorant, just enjoying fall in Arkansas. She was retired and financially secure. She also had her legal affairs in order…or so she thought. Her entire estate plan was based on a last will and testament.  She had no idea that a will would not keep her estate out of probate court. In her case, probate would be extremely expensive and would take forever. This jogger had a plan, but for her situation it was the wrong plan.

The third jogger thought he was ahead of everyone. He had all the right gear and newest equipment (the kind that could share all his record breaking times with the world), but he didn’t know how to use it. He was financially secure, too, and seemingly prepared for the future. He had an estate plan. He even had a trust. He knew enough to realize that a will would not keep him out of probate court, but a trust could. 

What he didn’t realize, though, was the importance of funding his trust. He didn’t do anything to title his assets correctly so that his trust would work for him and his family.  Like the second jogger, he was headed toward probate court, even though he had a trust. Unlike the second jogger, this jogger generally had the right plan, but because he didn’t use it right, it was a plan that was destined to fail.

We all have different priorities and different reasons for planning, but everyone needs a plan. We work with clients looking for very simple plans designed primarily to protect young children. We work with clients looking for more complex plans designed to protect qualified retirement money, to look out for heirs with disabilities, or to shelter assets against the rising costs of long-term care. 

In every case, we work to keep our clients out of probate court. Most of all, we strive to ensure that no one with whom we come into contact fails to plan, gets stuck with the wrong plan, or winds up with a plan that is destined to fail.

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