Ole Miss’s Mistake: Prescheduled Email About Estate Planning Makes A Poor Impression

“There is a common expression that ‘change is the only constant in life.’ We often experience this with our careers, our residences and even our families. Sometimes situations change around us, and developments in our health, laws and/or the financial landscape present new challenges.

In those times, it is beneficial to consider revisiting the content of your will, especially if it was designed years ago and now needs attention. Just like your home, your estate plan needs regular maintenance to reflect situations and circumstances you’ve faced.

By adding a bequest in your will, you guarantee that the priorities in your life are matched to your legacy. Also by expressing the philanthropic priorities of your life, you can continue investing in the students, faculty, mission and values of the University of Mississippi.”

Based on the timing of the email, the message came across as: You might die during the pandemic. Why not leave us your money? 

The backlash was instantaneous. The University soon released a statement in response:

“We deeply apologize for a University Department email sent Tuesday morning dealing with estate-planning information. This message was a previously scheduled newsletter focused on providing guidance for planned giving. However, the delivery of this message at this time was insensitive in the current climate. We have adjusted our communication protocols to align them with the emergency situation facing our university and nation and we are sorry for the distress that this message caused. We hope everyone in our university community is focusing on doing everything possible to stay safe in the current climate.”

It seems like this was an honest mistake that Ole Miss is truly sorry for. Universities regularly send out estate planning tips to their donors, and they forgot this one was scheduled in the rush to shut down the school’s in-person operations and get all the students home safely. 

As a law firm that does mostly estate planning work, we are often putting out information that is similar to the message Ole Miss sent out. And like Ole Miss, we understand that such information can be distressing during this challenging time. 

We want you — our clients, friends, and neighbors — to have the information you need to make smart decisions about your estate plan. But we do not want to increase anyone’s anxiety or stress during this difficult time. Our main message is that the Palmer & Slay team is here for you if you have questions about estate planning, or need the assistance of an estate planning or probate attorney. Please contact our office at any time if we can be of service.