A common phrase you hear in the law is that “the devil is in the details.” This is meant to convey the concept that when we are trying to reach an agreement, it is easier to reach an agreement about general concepts than it is to agree on exactly how those agreements will be implemented. Today, I wanted to write about this concept in a little bit different way.
My son runs track for his local high school. He runs the 110 meter hurdles and throws the javelin. In the javelin, I am always struck by the importance of technique. You will see a large, strong young man come to throw the javelin. Someone you would expect could throw it a country mile. But, then the throw flutters just a few yards. Next, a person will come throw that doesn’t seem to compare at all in physical strength to the previous young man, but he is able to throw the javelin 150 feet (the state record is about 220 feet). What was the difference? It was in the details of technique. If you follow the details of proper technique, you will throw the javelin much farther. As the saying goes, practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. The hurdles are the same. The difference between winning and losing is partly natural speed, but it is also proper technique, perfectly executed.
In planning, some of those details that get overlooked might include failing to sign the partnership or operating agreement. It might include failing to get assets into the trust. It might include getting in and getting your will or trust signed. Little details. Easy to take care of. Yet, when left undone, they mean the difference between a winning or losing plan. They mean the difference between an easy resolution or a lengthy court battle. So, just like you don’t win the 110 meter hurdles by only running 90 meters, with planning you have to run through the finish line, you have to take care of the details. You have to clear the hurdles. The devil is really in those details.