I just finished watching the third season of the popular period drama, “Downton Abbey,” which takes place in the early part of the 1900s. As with the first two seasons, I enjoyed losing myself in the intrigue and heartache of the family members and their devoted household staff. But, I have to admit being a bit distressed this third season, when not one, but two, beloved characters kicked the bucket. Yes, I realized the reason for this turn of events was that the actors playing those characters wanted to move on with their careers. But, it’s still very distressing to watch a young woman die in childbirth or see a husband, who just became a father, bloodied and sprawled on the ground after a fatal car accident. 

Fast forward to the end of 2013. We, in the estate-planning community, have experienced some real life nail biting drama and intrigue. Who knew what the U.S. Supreme Court would do when faced with the legality of same-sex marriages? Now that the court invalidated Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, we have many issues to discuss with our same-sex couple clients so they can plan for themselves and their families. In addition, we’ve had to reconsider some of our existing estate-planning strategies, thanks to a higher “permanent” exemption amount and the availability of portability, allowing our clients to use a deceased spouse’s unused exemption amount. 

And, as always, we must help our clients prepare for all eventualities. Fortunately, it’s no longer as common for women to die in childbirth, at least in the United States, but in today’s world, it seems that there are always complications to consider. I hope that the articles in our print publication and on our website and app have helped you to better prepare your clients for life’s contingencies. And, let’s hope that Season 4 brings happier times for the Crawley family.