Best Laid Plans

The recent mess in Afghanistan made me think of this quote, attributed to Robert Burns, from a poem of his. Translated, it goes like this:

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”

Essentially it means that no matter how much planning we do, something can always go wrong. Next, the “mice and men” part means that the universe doesn’t give any more significance to the planning done by people as it gives to the planning done by mice. We might think we are more important than mice, but the universe doesn’t give us any special treatment.

Does that mean that it makes no sense to plan? 

No, it absolutely doesn’t mean that. 

It just means that no plan is full-proof, and something can always go wrong. By having a plan, you can minimize the chance of something going wrong. In estate planning, we see it every day. If you have no plan, you’ve got almost a 100% chance of something going wrong. But with a good estate plan, maybe that percentage is knocked all the way down to 3% or 4%. That’s a huge difference.

At my office, we are all about minimizing risk for our clients. We want to shrink that percentage down so low that it’s virtually impossible for your plan to go wrong. For our clients, that number is likely below 1%. Our commitment to our clients is that we won’t abandon you. As your circumstances change, and if you let us know about it, we can tell you if your plan needs to change. We are here to guide you, and we don’t just give you a package of documents and send you on your way, never to be heard from again. It’s my biggest pet peeve as a lawyer, when that happens – your estate planning attorney never talks to you again – to use a popular term, they “ghost” you.

I don’t typically get political in my blogs. But I can’t help but think we are “ghosting” the people of Afghanistan. At least, the ones we promised to help. Circumstances changed and we are running for the hills. It just makes me sad.

I don’t care who is in office. Republican. Democrat. Whatever. I hold those in office to the same standard. I’ll say it again – I don’t care about the political party he/she is from. I believe in keeping my word. And I believe in America keeping her word. I never agreed with us being there in the first place, but that ship has sailed. We’ve been there for 20 years, and we can’t take it back. Our service members have been killed, maimed, and in some cases tortured, but we stayed. And now, we’re leaving. What has changed? Was it all for nothing?

The world is watching, and they are seeing us break our word. We promised to help, and instead, we cut and run. The rest of the world now thinks that either we are liars or we can be bullied.

Was it for nothing? Did we ever even have a plan? Or come up with one during the 20 years that this conflict has been going on? “Best laid Plans” aside, did we ever have any plan at all? I have too much respect for our veterans to think they fought and died for nothing. But now it feels like their sacrifice was in vain. 

I’m not an expert. Not even close. I can only go with what’s in my head and what’s in my heart. But I read a few articles, which in no way makes me any more knowledgeable than anyone else, but they did give me food for thought.

To read the same, here they are:

According to CNN, the world is scared. Their “belief in America as a steady hand” has disappeared. World leaders are criticizing the U.S.’s hasty retreat, and the chaos likely to follow. We’ve lost our standing with the rest of the world. World leaders were critical of Trump, and they welcomed the change in administration. But they fear the vacuum that will be left when the U.S. presence is gone, and now the criticism of Biden is starting as well.

I don’t know the answer. There are people smarter than me who are in charge of that. I don’t run a global organization. We are just a small estate planning law firm, and I think we are the absolute best at what we do. My decisions don’t affect the country or the world. But they do affect our clients. All I can say to them is that we won’t abandon you. We won’t cut and run. We stand by you, regardless of what the universe thinks of mice and men, and no matter what in their lives may go awry. We will be there for our clients. That’s our plan. 

Michael Monteforte, Jr.
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Barry Koslow 09/10/2021 12:47 PM
My disappointment stems from our poor planning and that is our fault and to much of the rest of the world that sat on the sidelines while our troops were carrying the burden and our citizens were carrying the cost in terms of lives and dollars. Finger pointing is cheap and looks it.
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