Many people like to comment in initial consultations at my question about the client’s estimate of the gross value of their estate. I always get something like:
You’ve probably seen bigger numbers…
I know it’s not much…
I could have had more but…
It’s still growing…
I always have the same response for everyone. It’s not about how much you have that matters most, it’s what you do with it. It’s that plain and simple. Unfortunately, for most people that walk into my office, I’m “preaching to the choir” because they are already taking the responsibility for their wealth and seeing an estate planning attorney.
When I think of the “it’s what you do with it” idea, I am reminded of a lesson I learned called the Parable of the Talents. This is a story told by Jesus concerning what the kingdom of heaven will be like, and recorded in the New Testament at Matthew 25:14-30. In short, three servants are placed in charge of various amounts of financial resources (talents) while their master is away on a journey. The servants do not know when the master will return, but when he does, each servant is evaluated as the master collects what he had entrusted to each one. Two of the servants doubled their talents, and are praised for it, but the third hid the talent for later. The master is very upset with the third servant for not putting the talent to work, or even earning interest on it.
What can we learn from this? First, everyone is entrusted with a different amount of resources, be it money, time, skills, family, jobs, etc., it’s your entire life, really. Second, since everyone is given something different to start with, it doesn’t matter how much you start with, what matters is what you do with what you were given. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. The true measure of your success with your own talents is between you and your master and that will be determined at a later time.
Be smart with what you have. That often means putting an estate plan in place.
Merrill A. Hanson
Law Office of Merrill A. Hanson
180 N. Glendora Ave., Ste. 201
Glendora, CA 91741
Originally Published February 23, 2015
This page is not intended to convey legal advice. You should contact an attorney for your specific situation.