Having recently been homebound due to a bought with the omicron variant, I had some time on my hands - so in between bouts of fever and cough I caught up on some new streaming shows, but when those lost my interest, I preferred watching some all time greats.  One of those movies was the Academy Award winning film "Gladiator", starring Russell Crowe as the main character Maximus - an honored and revered general who is left for dead by the conniving son of Marcus Aurelius, the emperor of Rome.  

In viewing the film again, I couldn't help but think about the general premise of the film.  Maximus, seeking not only avenge the murder of his wife and son, also seeks to enforce the will of Marcus Aurelius, who, while on his deathbed, conferred upon Maximus the obligation of returning Rome from an empire to a Republic, and reverting power back to the Senate.  Essentially cutting his son out of becoming Emperor, Marcus Aurelius planned for Rome to be set free from the rule of a monarch, and instead to being ruled by laws made by an elected Senate.

When Marcus Aurelius dies, his son, Commodus, asserts that he is the rightful heir of Rome and, because Marcus Aurelius had not written his wishes down, the other generals quickly joined him in this assertion.

"Gladiator" is an example of how poor estate planning can leave confusing and sometimes contradictory instructions to those you leave behind.  Had Marcus Aurelius written his will down, as say, Julius Caesar, had done, then perhaps Maximus would not have been the victim of a double homicide. 

Maximus eventually makes every effort to avenge his family's death and assert the will of Marcus Aurelius.  Having vanquished Commodus, he reveals the will of Marcus Aurelius, and is carted off in honor for fulfilling his fiduciary duty as executor.

Drawing up a last will and testament is the most basic component of any estate plan, and necessary if you want to make sure that your wishes are honored, well after you leave them behind.  Choosing the right executor is the first step in the process - selecting someone who will honor those wishes responsibly and promptly.  You don't have to be a "Gladiator" to be an executor - but you should be trustworthy and responsible.

Ted Alatsas
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Brooklyn, New York Trial Attorney Practicing Family Law, Elder Law, Asset Protection and Bankruptcy Claims
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