George Clooney’s New Movie Offers Informative, Entertaining Look at Trusts
George Clooney is starring in a movie about a family
trust. Yes, you read correctly.
“The Descendants,” which opened in select theaters in
November 2011, offers a great depiction of what the Trust
industry is all about.
The film comes from the creators of “Sideways” and
“About Schmidt.” It tells a humorous and tragic story of
Clooney’s character Matt King, a father who must reexamine
his past and face his future when his wife
suffers a boating accident. King is also a land baron in
charge of property handed down through generations
from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.
Difficult Decisions for Trustees
Amid trying to reconnect with his two daughters, King
struggles with a decision on whether to sell the family’s
lush land in Kauai. He is torn between cash-strapped
beneficiaries and the original intent of the family trust
to preserve the land for future generations.
The scenario King faces as both a Beneficiary and a
Trustee mirrors real-life dilemmas and tough decisions
faced by Trustees every day. King just wants to “do the
right thing.” But doing what is right isn’t always
Legal bloggers have written that the film is reminiscent
of Hawaii’s billion-dollar Campbell Estate and of the
Bishop Estate, created by Charles Reed Bishop, a
banker who married Hawaiian Princess Bernice Pauahi.
Real Life Families, Real Life Drama
Hawaii’s 107-year-old Campbell Estate dissolved in
2007. Some grandchildren of the original grantor took a
cash disbursement and paid the tax accruing, but most
rolled their interests into a new national real estate
corporation. The estate had to distribute its tax liabilities
and assets to the beneficiaries.
The Bishop Estate was founded by missionaries as a
non-profit trust that could have lasted indefinitely if it
had not been restructured after a scandal.
A Great Client Gift Idea
I think this film should be required viewing for
Advisors and Trustees alike, and I urge you to consider
buying copies of the blu-ray or DVD when it becomes
available next year. It offers Trustees and potential
Grantors a look at what can go wrong when
circumstances take a family trust off course.
To learn more about the movie, visit the official