“Knives Out” isn’t the typical big-budget, action-packed film that’s popular these days. Instead, it turns a topic that most people find pretty dull (estate planning and wills) and turns it into something truly interesting.

It’s also surprisingly accurate. Without giving away too much of the plot to discourage you from seeing it, the movie shows a fairly realistic portrayal (although with a little more intrigue) of the drama that can happen when a person of means passes away and leaves his or her heirs less than satisfied.

Mixed in with a murder mystery, some of the estate issues the movie touches on includes things like:

  • The fact that people often live long enough to change their minds — sometimes drastically — about how they want their assets to be divided after their deaths.
  • People sometimes form attachments (healthy or unhealthy) with their caregivers or others — and their family members may not even realize it until they find out that the will has been changed.
  • That frank discussions between the testator and his or her potential heirs can go a long way toward preventing problems after the testator’s death (and avoiding them due to the potential unpleasantness is bound to be problematic).
  • The subject of “undue influence” — where someone manipulates themselves into another’s will or otherwise subverts the testator’s true desires — is increasingly brought up in estate disputes these days.

While some of the movie is pure Hollywood fiction (like the “reading of the will” that’s done for dramatic effect and helps move the plot along), some of the core elements ring true — and offer a lessen inside.

Don’t leave your estate plans to chance. The best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is through careful consultation with an attorney.