Alan P. Henry, Freelance Reporter
12:59 am CDT March 28, 2018
The challenge, as Eric Matlin saw it, was to write a how-to handbook on the dry-as-dust subject of estate planning that was not just comprehensive, as many such books are, but also approachable and fun to read, which are not descriptors typically associated with such a topic.
The reason for such a strategy: “the best book to help you learn about estate planning is one you will actually read,” said Matlin, an attorney whose Northbrook-based practice has concentrated on estate planning for 28 years.
Matlin and his wife Gloria, a Glencoe-based realtor, raised their two children in Glencoe and have been married for 42 years.
The Winnetka resident has authored “Not Dead Yet” (Ozanam Publishing), a serious, A to Z, estate-planning handbook that also includes a 110 page hand-drawn graphic novel that demonstrates the kind of nightmares that occur when people of any age do not plan for life’s uncertainties.
Each of the 24 chapters in “Not Dead Yet” are preceded by a comic book-style vignette, often relating to the text that follows.
“Together, they tell the story of Don, his family and his friends, and why estate planning is important, even to those who cannot fathom why they would need it, now or ever. You’ll recognize parts of Don’s story in yourself or in people you’ve known. You may even come to realize the urgency of putting your wishes to paper,” Matlin said.
“No matter who you are, you will see yourself somewhere in the pages of ‘Not Dead Yet,’” said Matlin, who wrote the book over the course of eight years while at his second home in South Haven, Mich.
Matlin’s core philosophy is that estate planning benefits everyone, regardless age, health or economic circumstances, and “Not Dead Yet,” both through the text and the graphic novel, demonstrates a continuum of needs for people of all ages, including:
- The college student whose power of attorney for health and HIPAA authorization may help ameliorate a catastrophic situation for parents.
- The new parents needing a will to name a guardian who determines their child’s living arrangements.
- The blended family needing a trust to avoid one side of the family being left out.
- The typical needs of the affluent, elderly, ill and those with special needs.
Matlin believes the unique approach appeals to younger readers who would never consider reading a book on the subject.
“Some people can read by text, some people like the visual,” Matlin said. “I was always into comics. I wanted to expand the demographic of people who need estate planning but don’t realize they need it. I asked, ‘How can I appeal to younger people? Through a comic book.’”
The graphic novel was a collaborative effort between Matlin and graphic artists Troy Locker Palmer and Gabriel Bautista.
People of all ages, he said, need to understand that “life is not a calendar item.” To those who don’t plan ahead, he warns: “decisions are going to be made by other people, not the people that you would necessarily choose. What we want to do is keep the courts out of people’s lives. Not doing this is in itself a decision, because by not doing it everything is by formula and court involvement.”
In “Not Dead Yet,” Matlin offers a user’s guide of sorts. Similar to a dining guide listing prices in restaurants, chapters are marked with different numbers of dollar signs. The more a person is worth, the more closely he should look at chapters with the increasing numbers of dollar signs. Chapter 8, on health care and financial powers of attorney, living will and HIPPA authorization, is marked by a cent, and should be read by all, because “it just makes good sense.”
Matlin is a graduate of DePaul University and The John Marshall Law School. He has written estate plans for thousands of families, ranging from people with a negative net worth to people worth over $10 million. His first book on estate planning, “The Procrastinator’s Guide to Wills and Estate Planning” was published in 2004.
Sales of “Not Dead Yet” are supporting various charities, including The Josselyn Center in Northfield. Matlin also volunteers for CJE Senior Life at Lieberman Center. He also gives estate planning seminars to interested groups and is available for public speaking engagements.Like this article and want to receive more like this? You can! Sign Up for Our Newsletter