What’s Reasonable to You May Not Be to Another


One of a lawyer’s favorite terms is “reasonable”.
What is reasonable? What would a reasonable man do in a particular situation? This is the basic standard for most tort litigation, such as traffic accidents, medical malpractice and negligence. It is more or less a cross between the objective and subjective thoughts and opinions that are the human condition.

We often sound like Marvin Gaye when we talk about letting our conscience be our guide. It is assumed that following one’s conscience is reasonable. A critical question is how was your conscience formed? Different persons can have very different opinions as to what is reasonable in a given situation.

A friend of mine was explaining to me this morning a problem that he was having during the sale of his property. A buyer had purchased some land in its “as is” condition. The buyer, a retiring couple, was very pleased with the fencing and gating of the residence, and wanted it exactly as it was. They paid the full asking price. The seller, my friend, was very pleased with the sale.

After the sale, and before the buyer moved into the residence, the seller, thinking that gates were gates, replaced the entry way, which had his families crest and initials on it with another. He replaced them with a much less expensive but “reasonable” alternative. He also removed the entry lighting, because they were simply highlighting the crest on the gate. The seller thought that these minor changes to the residence were reasonable and who would want the previous owner’s initials on the gate anyway? Well, this specific buyer did and a dispute began.

Disputes often develop over a difference in opinion among parties as to what is reasonable. An in town caregiver may think it is reasonable for a parent to transfer ownership of the family residence over to him or her, because of the multitude of years they have provided care for Mom when she was aging and in poor health. An out of town child, who moved because of a job, and who emotionally cared just as much for Mom, may think the residence should ultimately be divided equally between the two of them. Which is reasonable?

An out of town child thinks Mom should stay at home as long as possible, and that the in town child should monitor her care indefinitely. He knows that Mom really wants to stay at home. The in town child is overwhelmed, missing work and noticeably stressed about her mother’s deteriorating condition. She would like mom to move to an assisted living community. She truly believes Mom needs this higher level of care that she just can’t provide. So again, which would be reasonable?

At junctures like these, it’s hard to decide what is the most reasonable solution for everyone. Personally, the most reasonable solution here, would be one desired by Mom that keeps her health and family in good shape and relationally together. As Estate & Elder Law attorneys, it’s our job to offer solutions and present them to our clients. As this story unfolds, there are many choices that would work out to a reasonable solution. This plan may involve in home care or nursing, providing financial compensation for the daughter for her help in assisting with her mom’s care, or finding the right community for mom’s needs. Whatever the solution it will have to be reasonable to everyone and keep relationships intact for the family that is experiencing a life changing season in their lives.
Berger Estate & Elder Law P.A. has been serving Kansas City for over 30 years providing Trusted Council with Proactive Solutions. If you or a loved one are experiencing a similar situation and need assistance, give us a call today at (913) 491-6332, visit our website berger-lawfirm.com or stop by our conveniently located offices at 11233 Nall, Suite 140 Leawood, KS 66211 for more information.


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