Reflecting on Scrooge | Estate & Trust Stories
I’m Mike Hackard. I’m part of a plaintiffs’ litigation law practice. This practice is rich in helping clients, neighbors and friends deal with overcoming the familiar barriers, challenges and trials of estate, trust, and catastrophic injury litigation.
While there are many similar fact patterns, there are others less commonplace. This Christmas season brings a few of the less commonplace to mind.
We all have our Holiday or Christmas reflections. Maybe rituals. Each year is different in some way.
Each Christmas season, I’ve made it a point to reflect upon the life lessons from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’ve read the book many times, seen it presented in plays, and watched several film versions of the story. It touches me.
It recounts, of course, the visits to Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser, by his former business partner, Jacob Marley. Scrooge encounters the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.
These are not easy visits. Scrooge comes away changed – a rebirth into a kinder, gentler man. He has a spring in his step. He cares about his brothers and sisters. He’s now attentive to the needs of others. To not ignoring the plight of people – be they sick, poor or lonely.
I’ve seen a few things recently that brought Scrooge, before his transformation, to mind. I don’t speak in judgment. More in human opportunities lost with little gained.
The owners of two particular estates come to mind. They lived in different corners of our state.
Neither was married during the last decades of their lives. Both had accumulated more than $10,000,000 in liquid assets.
Both thought that they were poor. That they had to save every penny that came their way. That helping their families or communities was wasteful. This was not something that they could afford to do. They needed every cent.
They both died – in less than pleasant surroundings. Barely missed. Not lionized. Their fortune became a fight.
There would be no celebration of their life. No stories of generosity, kindness, caring. Their stories also echo the lessons of the rich man and Lazarus.
You might remember the story. The rich man ignored the poor beggar Lazarus in life but called upon him to quench the rich man’s thirst in death.
The rich man begged Father Abraham for help. But Abraham replied,
‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
If you pair Scrooge and the rich man together, you can conclude that Scrooge ultimately got it right. In this lifetime – when it counts. This is part of the message of Christmas.
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