Debating Whether to Revise Your Estate Plan? Fret Not: Even Geniuses Change Their Minds

One theory of estate planning postulates that once we’ve arranged our affairs “just so,” they should be held fast forever, within a fixed and unchanging framework.

Prudence, however, dictates that expanding stock portfolios -- like expanding families -- should prompt us to alter our perspectives. And our estate plans.

The next time you and your loved ones find yourselves in a changing world, fret not: History places you in some pretty esteemed company.

Take, for example, the individual widely regarded as the greatest intellect of the twentieth century. 

Would you believe that Albert Einstein himself was forced not only to rip-up his math books -- but to revise his very understanding of physics itself -- when he was proven catastrophically wrong about literally everything?

It’s true: The atom-smashing Nobel Laureate who first clocked the speed of light had long espoused a universal model in which the galactic realm was held forever fixed within a massive, static domain. The vast canvas of the stars, Einstein believed, was baked into the sky “just so.” Even the physics textbooks agreed.

Then along came a Belgian physicist who challenged this model -- positing instead that the heavens in fact were not set, but were ever hurtling outward through space in the manner of a violent explosion.

The mustachioed author of E=MC² blanched; never had the Austrian encountered such absurdity and, in 1927, Einstein dismissed as “an abomination” the Belgian interloper’s expansion model.

Four years later, science had confirmed the Belgian’s hypothesis. Pretty much everything, you could say, had changed. University physics books, though practically brand new, began “expanding” campus dumpsters. Meanwhile an expansion of greater magnitude was acknowledged far and wide as dogma: that all matter was derived from the mother of all firecrackers, latterly coined “the Big Bang.”

Einstein, humbled, went on to admit his foible. And his Static Universe joined the Flat Earth in the annals of scientific ignominy. 

The presence of so-called 'dark matter' may yet vindicate Einstein's theory of "everything" -- so all you e-textbook-writing physicists out there, take note.

Even still, change visits us all -- though thankfully on a somewhat smaller scale. The kids move back to Arcata… we inherit that Ferndale Victorian… the neighbors in McKinleyville finally relent on selling us the plot of seaside acreage. 

So, too may our estate plans appear perfectly dialed-in and set in stone… at first. But then the next moment -- Bang! -- our worlds expand.

If change is afoot in your domain, think about ‘pulling an Einstein’: Schedule an appointment with Gale & Nielsen to update your affairs. You’ll be in good company.

Attorney Found!

Our new associate attorney, Tiffany Lopez, joined us this week after a state-wide search that began in January and took longer than an entire season of American Idol. Tiffany relocated to Eureka from southern California, where she had been working in Los Angeles-area firms since graduating from The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law in 2012. With her Bachelor's Degree from Humboldt State University, Tiffany has a strong background with our area and its people. We are thrilled to have Tiffany joining us, and look forward to introducing her to everyone we work with.

Attorney Wanted

We are seeking an experienced attorney to join our Trusts & Estates, Business, and Litigation practice. The ideal candidate will have five years of experience of civil litigation, with substantial exposure to probate and estate planning issues. Skills required include:

  • Admission in good standing to California Bar.
  • Working knowledge of California law and procedure, especially the Probate Code, Civil Code, and Code of Civil Procedure.
  • Strong legal writing and research skills.
  • Team-oriented temperament.

We will consider candidates from out of the area who are interested in relocating to Humboldt County. Salary is commensurate with experience. Please send resume, cover letter, and at least three professional references to Gale & Nielsen, 2850 Harris Street, Eureka, CA 95503, or by email to