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Default Decisions

Posted on November 18th, 2020

This election has really been interesting. Several times I found people who were adamant for one candidate or another, and I would ask what it was about the candidate with which they were so impressed. Interestingly enough, they would talk about the opposing candidate and what they did not like about them. It wasn’t so much that they liked the candidate they were going to vote for; it was a vote against what the opposing candidate stood for. A default vote, so to speak. “I won’t vote for what my candidate stands for, but I will vote against what the opposing candidate is standing for.” It’s a default decision.

Default Decisions in Estate Planning

I see this happen a lot in estate planning. A person doesn’t vote for a person, so much as against what another person would do. Take, for example, the guardian of minor children. I often hear, “I don’t want anyone in my family taking my children.” Or, “I’m leaving it all to this one child, because” (select one or more of the following:

  1. the other one hasn’t talked to me in years;
  2. the other one only comes around when he wants money;
  3. the other one can’t handle money;

The list goes on. Each one is a default decision. “X” doesn’t work for me, so I’ll go with “Y.”

You Have no Obligations

Estate planning should not be made up of default decisions. Think outside the box. You worked hard all your life so you can afford the things you want, you can take care of yourself in your older age, and you can enjoy life. Nothing says you must leave anything to your children. If you raised them right, they have made their own living and don’t need your money to survive. If they don’t or haven’t supported themselves, then perhaps it is because of their poor choices. You are not and do not have to be their savior.  

Think About Yourself

No rule says you must leave anything to your children. So, just sit back and think about what you would do with your estate if you had no children. First, think about what you would do for yourself. Would you vacation? Travel? Move to another state or country? Buy nicer clothes or a newer car? Would you stay at home, relaxing (gardening, reading books, drawing, etc.), comfortable with the knowledge that you have made wise choices and have enough set aside to see you through to the end of your life?

What Do You Want to Happen to Your Estate?

Then think about what you would want to do with your estate after you are gone. Do you have a favorite charity about which you are passionate? Would they appreciate and wisely spend the money you leave them? Would you have enough to set up an endowment fund to sprinkle among several charities forever into the future? Do you know an individual who has worked all their life taking care of other less fortunate ones, and you want to give them a hand up so they, too, may retire someday and be able to take care of themselves for a change?

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney

Think outside the box. Quit making default decisions and start making choices. Silverman Law Office will be happy to help you put your choices into words on paper. Contact a lawyer, like a Montana estate planning attorney from Silverman Law Office, today to begin planning.


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