This is Us


Season Three of the hit show, “This is Us,” premieres tonight. It’s a show that we love because of the drama, emotion, and relationships. “This is Us” reminds us that different families have their own family dynamics, unexpected events, and desire to leave a legacy.

(Note: none of this post will spoil the show for avid viewers, but if you’ve never seen the show, then some of the important background is mentioned.)

Family dynamics:

In the show, there are four main families highlighted. The first is Jack and Rebecca, who have two biological children and an adopted son, all of whom the parents love dearly. They lost one child unexpectedly during childbirth. Jack is the breadwinner and still stays very involved in the children’s lives.

The second dynamic centers around the first son, Kevin, who has reached a certain degree of wealth as an actor, but isn’t married. Sometimes, he makes decisions that may be viewed as reckless.

The third is their daughter, Kate. Kate deals with insecurity and anxiety issues, partly due to the loss of her father and also challenges with weight. Kate gets married to Toby during Season 2 of the show.

The fourth is the adopted son, Randall. Randall is married and has two daughters. He finds out about his biological father and develops a relationship with him. He and his wife also decide to become foster parents.

These very different situations demonstrate that families all have their differences and we cannot truly understand the dynamics unless we take the time to get to know them.

Unexpected events:

Though the events that happen in the show tend to be very consequential, they remind us that things outside of our control can occur. Whether it deals with our health, relationships, or dreams, things don’t always follow a straight line path.

Here are just a few examples from the show. Jack passes away in an accident, leaving Rebecca, who was a stay at home mother, to send all three children to college soon after. Randall’s biological father passes away of cancer. Kate has a miscarriage. Toby finds out he has an undiagnosed congenital heart defect and needs open heart surgery.

Because we cannot always anticipate what will happen, it’s important to have a plan. Whether it’s an evacuation plan, an Estate Plan, or something else, we need to have a framework for what to do both in expected and unexpected scenarios. We need to adjust these plans over time as situations evolve.


Legacy is a huge theme in the show. Particularly, the children want to honor Jack, who spent his life working to raise his family of five with strong morals and close relationships. The whole premise of the show is displaying intergenerational relationships and dynamics. These family ties demonstrate the role of legacy in passing down values, wealth, and security.

All the children seek to leave a legacy of their father’s hard work, kindness, and devotion to family. They often grapple with what next step to take in their journeys. At the end of the day, through the challenges, conflicts, and celebrations, the family sticks together.

“You see, for days, I've been plagued by the question: how do I honor my father's legacy? Then I realized, I honor his legacy by taking what I learned from the way he lived his life and use it to shape the way I go on living mine.” -Randall

“I am thankful for my family. I'm thankful that we're all safe and there's no one in the world that I'd rather be too hot or too cold with.” -Jack

“I like to think that one day you'll be an old man like me talkin' a young man's ear off explainin' to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then maybe you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital, just maybe not the way you planned.” -Dr. K (after telling Jack that one of the triplets had passed away.)

“The kids are gonna be fine. We’ve shown them a healthy marriage. This is just gonna be a blip on their radar years from now. We’re their parents, Bec. We do the best we can. But at the end of the day what happens to them, how they turn out, that’s bigger than us. Sometimes they’ll make good decisions. Sometimes bad decisions. And every once in a while, they’re gonna do something that’s gonna knock us off our feet. Something that exceeds even our wildest dreams. Our kids are gonna be fine.” -Jack

“Choosing our people is the closest we come to controlling our destiny. Because while everything else may change, if you choose right, your people will stay the same.” -Randall

“A big grand gesture, it’s not about the actual thing that you do, it’s not about what you say, it’s about intent. It’s about taking the time to tell the person you care about, I see you, I hear you, I know exactly what you need right now, and I’m showing how important that is to me.” -Jack

Tying it all together

Working in Estate Planning, we tackle these issues with each set of clients. We understand how important it is to build trust with each family so we can fully understand their goals. Each plan needs to consider unexpected events, even if these are unlikely, so that the plan is comprehensive. Every client has a legacy they want to pass on to their loved ones and we are honored to be a part of making sure that happens as seamlessly as possible.

As an aside, everyone has an “us” that drives them.

This is our “us.”


Shannon Liu ShairLiu Shair Law