As I am sure you have heard, Actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing Black Panther in the hit Marvel superhero franchise, died of cancer at the very young age of 43 last week. Since I had not seen it before, over the weekend I saw the Marvel smash hit everyone was raving about a couple of years back.
The most interesting part of the movie for me wasn’t the action, or even the superhero himself – it was the ritual by which our hero, named T’Challa, inherited the throne from his recently deceased father. Following a ritualistic opportunity for any person to challenge his claim as the next king, T’Challa is instructed to drink the extract of a plant where he gets his superpowers from, and he is buried from head to toe in sand. In this way, he can visit the plane where all his dead ancestors reside.
In a heartfelt scene with the ghost of his deceased father, T’Challa worries that he may not be ready to rule Wakanda. His father smiles and tells him that he devoted his entire life to making sure T’Challa would be ready for the challenges and hardships of ruling as king of Wakanda, as the new Black Panther. After pass
ing on some words of wisdom about good men and good kings, T’Challa wakes up and begins his superhero adventure.
There are two more journeys to the world of the ancestors in the film, in which both our hero and the primary villain visit and talk with their deceased fathers. One thing that stands out in all three of these scenes is the underlying theme: LEGACY.
That is, how well our children are living up to their parents’ legacies, and the pressures children often feel in trying to live up – or live down – their ancestors’ lives.
Estate Planning and the Inheritance of a Legacy
Nobody that I know of is going to be inheriting the powers of the Black Panther suit. However, much like passing down the crown of Wakanda, the fruits of your life’s labor are at the heart of estate planning. Estate planning has a lot to do with making sure your children live better, happier, and more successfully than their ancestors. This is why we seek to assist you you’re your estate plan. When the unexpected happens, we all want to ensure that our property – and even we – are in good hands.
But there is more to legacy than leaving your money and property to your loved ones. For example, if you pass away before your children grow up and move out, who is going to look after them? Who do you trust to provide for their health, education, and well-being? And even more than that, the movie raises a major point: that we should think about what we are doing to make sure our children grow up to become the people they were meant to be. Are we leaving them a mess to clean up, or are we working to put them in the best possible position to succeed? How will we be remembered by our children: as someone who lifted them up and devoted our life to helping them succeed, or as someone who impeded them and suddenly left them with responsibilities and mistakes to fix?
We plan our estates to prepare our children for a life without us, and to make them into people capable of carrying on our legacy, in their own way, when we are gone. After all, our children are our legacy, and a big part of how we will be remembered. It is never too soon to start planning.