Estate Planning Lessons We Learned from U.S. Presidents

February 19, 2024, is President’s Day.  This is a great time to learn some lessons from our forefathers’ estate planning experiences.

George Washington: Lessons for a Blended Family

Washington, a highly respected figure, took notable care in organizing his affairs and planning for the future. At age twenty-six, Washington married Martha, a widow who had two children of her own. After his stepson John died, Martha and George raised his two youngest children as their own. Washington’s blended family prompted him to draft a will that meticulously provided for each family member, ensuring their well-being after his passing.

This highlights how by spending sufficient time and effort to think about and memorialize how we want to leave our possessions; we can leave a real legacy without a stressful mess.

Thomas Jefferson: Lessons for Business Owners

Jefferson, despite his great capabilities, had significant financial difficulties. His case demonstrates the challenges faced by families with cash-poor estates.  His wealth was tied up and his family didn’t have the cash to settle the debts.  

Many families today face similar problems. Often when a business owner has significant wealth tied up in their business but little cash in reserve to settle debts, funds aren’t readily available to surviving family members.  This can cause the families left behind to feel intense pressure to sell too quickly or at a large discount to pay creditors.  

Life insurance can be used to provide sufficient cash to resolve this issue. With the proper amount of life insurance, and by using estate planning tools such as irrevocable life insurance trusts, an individual can prevent a “land rich, cash poor” situation like that experienced by Jefferson’s family. 

Abraham Lincoln: No Will

Lincoln, a lawyer, surprisingly died without a will or any other type of estate planning in place.  His murder plunged his family into a nightmare as they attempted to settle his affairs without knowing where to start. This is called an “intestate estate” and the funds are divided according to state law, not necessarily what he would have wanted, during a prolonged court procedure called “probate”

A key lesson is that no one knows when they will pass away. Even Abraham Lincoln was caught unprepared. Had Lincoln put some basic planning in place prior to his death, it could have eased his family’s burden.

Learning from These Presidents

Give us a call if this leaves you needing to begin or revise your own planning. We would be more than happy to visit with you and discuss your thoughts. Until then, Happy President’s Day!

Andrea L. Jakob, PA is located at 12401 Orange Drive, Suite 219 in Davie. They can be reached at 954-862-1479 or on the at