There is only one definition of fair | Estate Planning Daily 037

Hey everybody, good evening. It’s Chris Small with CMS Law Firm. It is late, it’s like midnight, I’ve got the TV on on the side, that’s what you’re seeing on my face. But I wanted to hop on here real quick and talk about something before the end of the night, for two reasons. Reason number one is I’m really trying to do one of these every day, and I didn’t want to miss. And reason number two is this is something that’s kind of interesting and important and something that is not talked about often, and it’s something that I think we should all really consider and think about when it comes to estate planning and when it comes to life in general, okay?

The topic for today, which is something that there’s only one definition of fair and you’re probably not going to like it, comes from a discussion that I had with my paralegal, her name is Brittany, today. The last couple days actually. And the topic centered around the definition of the word standard and what standard sort of really means in the context of our world. And what happened was, we were working on someone’s estate plan, which we are apt to do because we are estate planning attorneys. Well I’m an estate planning attorney and Brittany’s a paralegal. A very good one, at that. And one of the things that makes her really good is that she is innately curious. She wants to learn, she likes to know sort of what’s going on when it comes to estate planning. She doesn’t just want to be someone that sort of checks boxes, and fills in blanks, and things like that. She wants to actually know what’s going on.

Ella, who is another attorney in the firm, her, and Brittany, and I were talking about the standard provisions of a trust protector, okay? And we’re not going to get into the weeds about what that actually is or what it means, just know that if you have a trust somebody can protect it. And they’re called a trust protector, believe it or not. Which is probably one of the few times that a bunch of lawyers have gotten together and named something what it actually is, okay? But, I digress. So we were talking about the terms or the provisions for this trust protector and what they can do and what they can’t do, when they can replace a trustee or when they can’t, what kind of notice they should get. Blah, blah, blah. Okay, you don’t care about this part.

Somebody said something like, “These are the standard trust protector provisions.” And someone else said, “I don’t think so. I think these are the standard trust protector provisions.” Okay? And then I said, “Listen folks, people … This is what we need to know, this is what matters when it comes to standard. The fact is whether something is standard or not does not matter one single bit. What matters is what is important to the client? What provisions do they want? What for them seems to be standard? Those are the things that we’re going to include in that plan.” Now it’s our job to ensure that the client knows what each of those provisions means, what they do, and what the consequences of taking those specific provisions out has on their overall plan. That’s our job. So there is no standard.

So to get worked up over what is standard, is sort of a waste of time. We’ll put in what we think goes in there, we’ll do our best based on the conversations that we’ve already had with the client, and then we’re going to tell the client, “Look at these things, and you tell us if you have questions, if you have comments, if you have changes, if you want something in, if you want something out.” And we’ll progress from there. That is how we do it. So the client sets the definition of standard, not us. Just a fact.

Now, the same goes with the definition of fair. Okay? Whether or not you think something is fair or not is not important. Nobody cares. I certainly don’t care. Particularly and specifically if the things that we’re talking about when it comes to fairness are not yours. I can’t tell you how many calls I get from beneficiaries or heirs of estates that tell me that someone has died and the division of assets is not fair. One of the things I want to say is, “You know what? It’s exactly fair. You know why? Because the person that died is in charge of setting the standard for what fairness is.” They determine whether or not you get anything. They determine whether or not you get even stuff with everybody else. They pick it all. And whatever they pick is fair. You know why? Because it’s their stuff. So as long as they make the decision with the capacity to do so and they’re not under duress when they’re making the choice, in my eyes it’s fair.

But, that goes with you too. And it’s empowering in some ways, scary in some ways, and it’s empowering in some ways. It’s empowering because you’re not tied to sort normal morays of the city, or of your peer group, or of anything. You’re not tied to anything. You alone are in charge of setting the standard for fairness in your estate. Okay? With your plan. It’s on you. And whatever you set as that definition of fairness is what’s going to control throughout.

The moral of the story is, right, there’s only one kind of fairness that matters. And if you were not the trustee, right, the person who created the will. If you’re not the person in charge, then you don’t get to cry about something being unfair. I’m sorry. It’s the truth. All right? That is it.

As always, if you want to know more about estate planning I’ve got a great overview, a great summary, it’s my spiel. It’s what I tell all potential clients that come in the door. You can go see that at If you know by now that you want to talk to me, I would love to talk to you. It’d be amazing. You can go to or you can call me 206-659-1512. So that’s estateplanningvideo.come,, or 206-659-1512.

All right, thank you so much. Kind of pumped I got this in, I snuck it in although it’s after midnight technically. But I’m going to count it. And I’ll be here again to talk to you tomorrow. All right, if you have questions, by the way, leave them. If you liked this video, hit the like button. If you know somebody that needs to hear this, share it with them. All right? And I will be here again tomorrow to talk to you about some more fun estate planning stuff. Okay?

That’s it, have a great night, and I’ll see you later. Bye.