Print This Article

Sometimes you just have to say No

“No” isn’t a four-letter word. Saying “no” isn’t necessarily bad and you shouldn’t feel bad when you say it. Part of saying no means taking a stand. It can mean standing up to injustice. For example, our legal system is, for the most part, dependent on people saying “no, I won’t put up with [fill in the injustice].” When someone tries to take advantage of you, the law expects you to notify law enforcement if the action was criminal. CALL 9-1-1. The law expects you to file a civil case to recovery your property; if that means hiring a lawyer to help you, then so be it. For the most part, the law expects you to take action to prevent someone with a cognitive deficit from hurting himself/herself or others by filing a guardianship petition.

The thought police aren’t checking up on your demented loved one to see whether they still have the cognitive ability to enter into contracts (or drive, or make their own meals, or keep up with their medications), so you’ve got to step up and make it happen. The law isn’t going to make your spouse stop cheating on you, so if you want to say “no to cheating” then the law expects you to stand up for yourself. If your siblings try to steal your inheritance, the law expects you to take action or let it go. If someone forces your loved on to sign a Will, or has them sign one when they lack capacity, the law expects you to say no by filing an objection (Caveat) to the Will. There is power in saying “no” to injustice.

Saying No Can Protect You, Yours Plans and Your Dignity

Saying “no” often means standing up to others, but it can mean standing up for others. For example, if one child wants a larger share of your estate and you feel like that’s wrong, then just say no. On the other hand, if one of your children says everyone should get equal shares and you feel like one child is more deserving, or one child needs more help, or if you feel like your money should go to charity, then say “no” to whoever is trying to unduly influence you. The law says your stuff belongs to you and you can leave it to whomever you want.

If someone tells you that you should name him or her as your financial or health agent, you have the power to say yes. You also have the power to say no. You should never appoint an agent to help manage your money unless that agent is honest and loyal to you. You should never appoint a health agent to make decisions during yur incapacity unless the agent will follow your known wishes. Saying no to someone who wrongly thinks they know what’s best for you can be critical in protecting your dignity and your estate.

Say No to Wrong Decisions

You can say “no” to a wrong decision. For example, if you apply for public benefits and your application is denied, you can say no by requesting a fair hearing or filing an appeal. If a judge issues a decision that you believe is wrong, you can say “no” by filing an appeal. If an insurance claim is denied, you can say “no” by hiring a lawyer to help you force the insurance company to pay the claim. If someone cheats you, you can say “no” by taking that person to court.

Saying No Sets Boundaries

Saying no doesn’t have to be confrontational. Sometimes it simply means setting boundaries. If you’re a caregiver and the care recipient is asking for so much help that your marriage is in danger, then setting healthy boundaries might mean saying “no, I can’t be there every night.” It might mean that it’s time to spend money on paid caregiving help, or it might mean that it’s time to enlist other friends and family to share the load. Sometimes saying “no” means finding a different way to get to “yes.”

Offering alternate solutions is essentially step four in Alec Mackenzie’s art of saying no. See G. Riskin, The Power of Saying “No.” Standing up for yourself is a life skill everyone needs to learn and an article by Erin Eatough, includes a list of 8 ways to speak up for yourself beginning with “Understand that saying no can be a good thing.” For example, you can’t be a good caregiver if you’ve neglected your own health and allowed yourself to become worn down. You can’t fill someone else’s cup if yours is empty. You can’t love others as you love yourself the way it’s supposed to be done if you don’t love yourself enough to take care of yourself.

Avoid Even the Appearance of Evil

There is also power in saying “no” to involving yourself in wrong conduct. When you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of by parents, siblings or others who need your help, there might be a temptation to take something as “compensation” without asking. Just say “no.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 says God will not let Christians be tempted beyond what they are able to bear. There is nothing wrong with asking for compensation for caregiving, or asking for compensation for serving as trustee or in another fiduciary capacity. There is, however something seriously wrong with trying to sneak money under the table. Just say no to doing things the wrong way; do things in an above-board fashion as Jesus said in John 10:1.

It is also important to avoid putting yourself in a position where you feel like you must go along with someone else’s unjust conduct. A Psychology Today article on “The Power of No” talks about the danger of accepting gifts with strings attached. The article goes on to clarify that saying “no” is not being negative. “No is a moment of clear choice. It announces, however indirectly, something affirmative about you. ‘I will not sign’—because that is not my truth.”

The Power of a Positive No

Billy Graham, in the message below, speaks about the power of a postive no. Rev. Graham cites four people who used the power of a positve “no” to make a huge impact: Vashti, Daniel, Joseph and Jesus. You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate standing up for yourself, standing up for those less fortunate who need help, or just standing up for what’s right (and against what’s wrong). There is power in saying no so don’t be afraid to use that power in appropriate circumstances.

Start Here

Enter your name and email address to keep up with what’s new at EZ Elder Law!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.