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Constructive pessimism – a good thing Constructive pessimism – a good thing

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Oct 16

Constructive pessimism – a good thing

Written by Constructive pessimism – a good thing

It may seem counter-intuitive to suggest that pessimism can be a good thing, but used constructively it can be – but how?

Some people are naturally organised and dot all the ‘i’s and cross all the ‘t’s, but most of us are far less perfect and better at putting off things we know should be done or letting sleeping dogs lie rather than stirring up the hornets’ nest (to mix metaphors).

Those of us who are disorganised or problem averse could benefit from some constructive pessimism.  This involves thinking of the worst that can happen, making plans for it and then being pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t occur.

Have you catered for the worst that could occur in your world?

  • A fall-out, illness or death of business partners or co-owners.  However well you may be getting on at present, do you have an effective partnership agreement or shareholders’ agreement (if a company) to say what happens if things go wrong?  You would then need some ground rules, and without these there can be very expensive problems and even business failure.  Invest in minimising this risk.
  • Incapacity and/or dementia of yourself or those around us.  This is a risk which is becoming increasingly more important as we live in an ageing society.  Nasty and not nice to think about but everyone with any assets should have Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).  Don’t put this off until it is too late, and do think of older relatives – doing nothing creates avoidable problems and expense.
  • Death. Even more nasty to think about.  The old adage “making a Will won’t kill you” comes to the fore.  Much anguish is caused to those left behind where there is no Will or one which is inappropriate or out-of-date.  Many farming and rural businesses have been ripped apart on the death of a family member where the situation could have been avoided with a little forethought.  With constructive pessimism, a well-drafted Will can create fairness, avoid disputes, clarify uncertainties, say thank you, save tax, create trusts, pass on family money and assets, etc.
  • Co-habitation, Marriage and Divorce. Constructive pessimism and the rosy glow of the first flush of love are not happy bedfellows but if cold logic is applied to the near future when big steps are about to be taken there is a lot that may go wrong and could be avoided.  Pre‑nuptial and co-habitation agreements, trusts, and Wills in contemplation of marriage could avoid foreseeable situations.  Sadly, as an increasing number of relationships don’t last, these problems are only dealt with when it is too late and with vast emotional cost and expense.

If any of this has rings true then why not try a bit of constructive pessimism and invest in good advice to avoid the pitfalls.


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