Year of 2011 – Hull on Estates and Succession Planning #219
Listen: Year of 2011
This week on Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Ian discusses the year of 2011. Specifically, he discusses the book Start with WHY by Simon Sinek, which can also be found in the Hull & Hull LLP Reading Center. Ian examines the question of why in regards to estate planning issues and contentious planning matters.
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Year of 2011 – Hull on Estate and Succession Planning #219
Posted on January 18, 2011 by Hull & Hull LLP
Welcome to Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, a series of podcasts hosted by Ian Hull and Suzana Popovic-Montag. The podcast you’re listening to will provide information and insights into estate planning in Canada. From the offices of Hull & Hull in Toronto, here are Ian and Suzana.
Ian Hull: Hi and welcome to Hull on Estates and Succession Planning. This is episode #219.
Hello and welcome back to Hull on Estates and Succession Planning. Suzana and I have taken a slight pod break but we’re back on air, 2011 with lots of vim and vigor and all kinds of topics that we want to cover over the next year. We hope everybody had a nice holiday season and although we’re well into January now that this podcasting is being launched, we want to welcome everyone back from our little pod break…podcast break. Over the holidays…oh and sorry you’ll notice that Suzana isn’t with me today…on either side and we’re podcasting without her and she will hopefully be back for our next one, if not the one after. She’s engaged in a big mediation right now.
I’m gonna start off with this year with a podcast about the year of 2011 and something that I’m trying to do more with my clients, and I’m hoping that people are trying to consider generally when we’re dealing with estates and trusts and potentially or actual contentious matters with estates. And I…over the holidays I had some time to read some books and one of the books I read was a booked called “Start with WHY” and it is a book by Simon Sinek and it’s on our preferred reading list on the web page that we have updated regularly. And the link to the book is there. But it talks about starting with ‘why’. And I thought what might be a good idea for our…and I’m gonna start pushing on my clients to do…is let’s start with ‘why’ when they come to see me about dealing with (a) estate planning issues or (b) dealing with contentious estate planning matters.
I often face the different types of litigation that we see in our office with a great deal of hesitation. I know the turmoil and the pain that the litigation will be for the client and it’s like telling a teenager about the risks going forward. They don’t understand them until they’ve lived through them. So there’s a certain amount of, I find with my clients, a little bit of…my warnings go on deaf ears. And that’s okay, of course, and it’s appropriate because that’s a personal choice that the client wants to make. But it seems to me that we need to press back and consider ‘why’. Why exactly are we pursuing the litigation? And consider today the question of ‘why’ in the context of the types of contentious matters that arise, certainly in every day-to-day practice.
The two key components to any matter at our office that we deal with is (1) communication and (2) transparency. Communication about what we’re thinking, about how we’re seeing the dynamics unfolding as the litigation or as the contentious proceedings move on. We are always working at better communicating those thoughts and those concepts to our clients to keep them up-to-date (a) but (b) to let them know where we think the matter is proceeding, both from a strategic and from a legal standpoint.
And secondly, the transparency – the transparency between both the client and the individuals, individual lawyers and of course, the transparency within the litigation. We need to hold our…obviously we hold our cards close to our chest and are there for the number one goal of protecting our client’s interests, but sometimes the transparency can be so important. And where transparency can be so important is, of course, and one of our general themes throughout our podcasts is, when planning. Forget the contentious side because that can be tied to strategic advantages to proceeding and certain information being disclosed at certain times. But on the planning side, the strategy tends to be more wide open. And again, I will ask myself and ask my clients to consider ‘why’. Why do I want to communicate my future thoughts in terms of my estate plan? And why do I want to be transparent? Well we’ve talked many times in our podcasts about the benefits of the ‘why’, the benefits of transparency and communication. But I wanted to think…I was thinking about it when I was reading this book. And what is the ‘why’? When we wake up in the morning and we consider pursuing our estate plan, or we consider pursuing a litigation plan within the context of our estate, why are we doing it? And I like to ask myself, and I’m gonna use 2011 as a reminder to me to ask my clients too, when they come to see us about a contentious matter. For example, we have a series of podcasts that deal with how a Will challenge proceeding is conducted. And we have my father’s video on-line where he explains in his views some of the real core components of a Will challenge and a piece of Will challenge litigation. That’s the’ what’ and we have dedicated our website and we’re continuing to dedicate our website to the ‘what’. But ‘why’ is only answered by the client. And certainly from my perspective, I’m gonna start to be more vigilant to ask the clients why. And why do they want to engage in the litigation? Is it a variety of factors? Is there more factors? Is it more overwhelming than the other? And the Will challenge litigation is an easy illustration of that, because the ‘why’ to pursue that litigation is a choice. And it’s a choice. Whereas when we have dependant’s relief applications or situations where our clients or we’re defending them or in the context of a dependant’s relief application, it can be the ‘what’ in the sense that they need the money. The spouse has not been properly treated, not given enough money during his lifetime, the Will does not provide for it. So you bring a dependant’s relief application. That’s because the ‘what’ is, I need money for my client.
Whereas when we get back to the ‘why’ in the context of estate litigation and Will challenges, sometimes it’s about the money. But sometimes it’s about far more than the money. And what we’re finding more and more when we’re pressing on that issue of the ‘why’…we’re absolutely capable to do with the ‘what’…the ‘why’ helps us deal with the ‘what’. Once we get a better understanding of why our clients are proceeding in the way that they want to proceed in the context of the litigation that they want to proceed, that can have a tremendous impact refining and directing our litigation in a very surgical and a very pointed way. And it seems to me that’s where the efficiencies can start to come into play in the context of the ‘what’.
So I’ve used ‘why’ and ‘what’ back and forth and in the context of two different choices – a dependant’s relief application where the ‘what’ is, we need the money; and a Will challenge where the ‘why’ is not necessarily driven by the money. And it’s driven by different factors, why they are pursuing that litigation.
So I look at the other kinds of litigation that we’re involved with and I think to myself, from our perspective anyway, when we’re looking to remove a trustee, the question of ‘why’ needs to be answered at the outset or at least needs to be framed at the outset so that then we can proceed with the ‘what’. If we’re not happy, my client is not happy with the actions of the existing trustee, why are we trying to get them removed? Well is it partially because they’re putting the estate assets in jeopardy? Or is it partially because we just don’t like them? And once we can drill down on the ‘why’, we can then create our plan going forward and our ‘what’ going forward.
So again I thank the author, Simon Sinek, for alerting me of the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ distinction. I hope I haven’t been too confusing with the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ today but I thought that it was a great way to illustrate our starting point into what is going to be an exciting year of podcasting with myself and Suzana. And we look forward to being back on air more regularly after we’ve taken our Christmas extended break from podcasting. So welcome back to everyone and I look forward to our next podcast.
Thank you very much.
You have been listening to Hull on Estate and Succession Planning by Ian
Hull and Suzana Popovic-Montag. The podcast that you have been listening
to has been provided as an information service. It is a summary of current
issues in estates and estate planning. It is not legal advice and you are reminded to always speak with a legal professional regarding your specific circumstance.
To listen to other Hull & Hull podcasts, or leave any questions or comments, please visit our website at hullestatemediation.com.