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Ask the Expert Podcast – Estate Planning on the Silver Screen


Sometimes, Hollywood offers us more than glitz and glamour – it offers us estate planning lessons! Kate Kilberg, a Partner and Estate Planning Lawyer at Catalyst Law, has started an unusual blog series in which she offers analysis of select films, drawing from them key takeaways that relate to estate planning. Combining estate planning and entertainment, she demonstrates that there is a lot to glean from the stories on the silver screen! In this podcast, Philanthropic and Investment Advisor Katherine Fox, CFP®, CAP®, sits down with Kate to look at two films in particular, The Descendants and This is Where I Leave You, each of which illustrates important estate planning concepts and issues.

“A good estate plan is more than just a will; it actually includes a lot more than that,” Kilberg notes when discussing The Descendants. The movie, an Academy Award-winning film starring George Clooney, features interesting plot lines that center around a family trust and the transfer of property. Kate discusses the benefits of a trust, as well as the potential issues that can arise in the creation of a trust. The Descendants also highlights the importance of an advance directive, or healthcare directive, with the story showing how estate planning, done well, can sometimes be deeply important in helping families cope during difficult times.

This is Where I Leave You brings an all-star cast to the story of four grown siblings returning to their childhood home after the death of their father. Seven days together forces them to confront their family conflicts while dealing with a poorly designed plan to pass along the family business. “One of the worst things that can happen is expensive estate litigation, when the siblings don’t have their own needs and wants taken into consideration for an asset,” is a key takeaway Kate discusses in her analysis of this film.

You can listen to the full podcast on YouTube here or on SoundCloud here. To learn more about Catalyst Law, visit or read Kate’s blog series at