One of the best national estate planning conferences I attend every year is The Estate Plan’s Advanced Institute, and this year the topic I was presenting was a difficult one. I had the honor of handling the lead-off spot at 9 am PST on a Monday morning, and I was reviewing the 222 provisions contained in a good married couple’s revocable living trust. To be honest, I was envisioning myself standing in front of a crowd of sleeping attorneys, advisors and accountants and reading from a trust like I was reading from a dictionary.

For months, I thought about this lecture and how I could make it interesting. I wrote a book to accompany the lecture and published it. I scrubbed a trust review spreadsheet with the help of my legal interns over the summer and into the Fall, and made notes on it to help with the presentation and particularly explain the catastrophic effects of not having the particular provisions. I started and restarted PowerPoint presentations. With a few months lead time, I had to be very well prepared indeed.

So I’m on the plane to Reno leaning against the bulkhead trying to figure out how I’m going to present this. I finally decided to take a break and watch a movie on the leg from Detroit to Salt Lake City. I watched the movie Moneyball about the Oakland A’s baseball team. Believe it or not, I found what I needed to help bring it all together.

  • The Oakland A’s were a team with a VERY limited budget, and so they had to make every dollar count in contracting players count. Estate Planning clients want the best value for their dollar.
  • The game of baseball and teams finding players is grossly distorted because players are recruited based on a lot of irrelevant factors like looks, confidence, and what they look like swinging the bat rather than how well they get on base, but it persists because everyone buys into the irrelevant factors. The “game” of estate planning is grossly distorted because attorneys keep telling people that a simple will is enough and a trust isn’t needed even though a good revocable trust can be much better for many people.
  • The Oakland A’s stripped away the irrelevant stuff but found the best, least expensive way to get to the end of the season. Having the right trust with the right provisions that can handle contingencies that come up can get the family through the toughest of times.

By seeing these similarities between Moneyball and the material I had to present, I was able to structure the lecture by covering 1) the highlights of the 222 trust provisions, 2) discuss the right way to structure client meetings, and 3) how to generate referrals through expanded trust education.

One of the things said: “I definitely liked (Jeff’s) presentation. It’s great to hear about advanced techniques, but sometimes it’s really good to go into the basic trust document in detail.” — Kathleen Miller, Advisor from Greater Los Angeles Area, California. Eventually, the video of the presentation will be online at The Estate Plan’s website, but for an audio podcast of the session, please click here.