Estate Planning Film Clips

The way the movies portray it, wills are supposed to cover funeral plans in addition to the distribution of assets. Unfortunately, family members may die before doing any estate planning. Even with a will, plans can go awry. And only 30% of the population does any end-of-life planning, because most people are terrified to discuss death.

Funny films make you laugh, relax, and learn. Check out these comedy and dramatic film clips, an innovative way to help draw potential donors and clients to engage in estate planning conversations!

Certified Thanatologist Gail Rubin is available to bring these and other film clip presentations to your market. She has a license from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation to use film clips in public. Download a list of Gail’s funny film clip-illustrated talks and visit this page at for more information!

1969 VW Commercial: Rewards and punishments from beyond the grave

A classic lesson on wills in just 60 seconds!

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Conflict over inheriting wealth

As the narrator explains in this scene, the reading of the will of a very wealthy woman, “When the destiny of a great fortune is at stake, men’s greed spreads like a poison in the bloodstream.” And relatives with tenuous connections to the deceased come out of the woodwork. This woman had decades of amendments to her will, and ungrateful children eager to inherit.

Eulogy: Surprises at the lawyer’s office when reading the will

This is black comedy that follows three generations of a family who come together for the funeral of the patriarch – unveiling a litany of family secrets. In this scene at the lawyer’s office for the reading of the will, the attorney plays a video message from the deceased that reveals a rude surprise for the family.

 Bonneville: Wills and second marriages

Jessica Lange plays the second wife, whose husband dies while they are traveling abroad. His rich, resentful daughter points out that “Daddy” didn’t update his will. This leaves the second wife out in the cold, as the will says the house goes to the daughter. Jessica was sure the will had been updated, but apparently, “Daddy” did not get around to it.

Grand Theft Parsons: Holographic wills

This comedy based on a true story offers the opportunity to discuss holographic wills. Musician Gram Parsons died of an overdose of morphine and alcohol in 1973. He had made a pact with his manager to have his body cremated by pyre illegally in Joshua Tree National Park. Even though Gram was married, his girlfriend Barbara, played by Christina Applegate, shows up with a hand-written piece of paper claiming it’s Gram’s will giving her all of his earthly possessions. Can this be valid?

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir: Dying without a will

This classic black-and-white drama provides an illustration of the hazards of dying without a will. Rex Harrison plays a British sea captain at the turn of the 20th century who died accidentally at home of gas poisoning. Gene Tierney plays a young widow who has taken up residence in his house. His ghost haunts the house, which he had planned to make a retirement home for seamen. Since he died without heirs or a will, his cousin in Australia owns the house, which Mrs. Muir has rented. The ghost hatches a plan to restore his goal for the house from beyond the grave.

Carpet Kingdom: Wills and funeral plans

Uncle Grover thought he would get his Viking funeral by using his will. Is this really a good plan?

The Six Wives of Henry LeFay: The challenges of sorting out multiple marriages

You don’t see Tim Allen as Henry LeFay in this scene because he’s supposed to be in the casket. Chaos erupts at the funeral home as the current and ex-wives come together prior to the funeral and argue about arrangements. One ex-wife is his business partner, and Henry left a trail of letters expressing different funeral wishes with each ex-wife. How do you untangle or avoid this mess?

The Truman Show: Life is fragile

Jim Carrey plays an insurance salesman/adjuster who discovers his entire life is actually a TV show. This scene illustrates how we never know when or how the end might come, however improbable, so we should all plan ahead.

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