Too clever, by half

My late grandfather was a bright man.  He was the first of his family to go to finish high school, attended City University on scholarship where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and was ABT for the Master’s degree before leaving to go into business for himself.  The IQ test that he took while in the army in WWII classified him as a genius.  Throughout his life, he was a voracious reader who seemed to have been interested in every topic at one point or another, and had done extensive research on all of them.

He often presumed, with good reason, to know more about a given topic than anybody else.  This made him a great person to get advice from, but a poor one to give advice to, for he very rarely listened.  This was particularly true on topics that regarded money.

The downside of all this was that it has taken my uncle and a lawyer the better part of several months to untangle the finances of his estate.  He did everything himself, the result being that he left behind a mess of papers that only he could understand.  And since he did everything himself, none of the stuff is accessible electronically making things like stocks a royal pain to deal with.  The irony of course is that he always believed that his papers were well-organized and set up, and probably for him it was.

I’m not sure there is a particular lesson to be drawn, but after spending much of the day with my uncle and grandmother dealing with banks and lawyers, it’s fairly clear that it is possible to be too smart for one’s own good, and that smart people can just as easily be blind to what they do not understand as everybody else.

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