Why Do People Do What They Do?

Last updated 10/02/2023

One of the subjects we find interesting is how people make decisions. Why do they do what they do? There are, of course, as many reasons as there are people because everyone is different. But in the world of elder law, the issue comes up frequently. For example, it’s common for a child to ask why his or her parent put particular provisions in their Will. Or why they didn’t have a Will. It’s common to question why certain provisions appear in trusts and other legal documents. Of course, one way to avoid having your children question your estate plan is to tell them up front. In 2013, Warren Buffett said this at the Berkshire Annual Meeting:

“Anyway, and something else I find, which I think is an obvious thing; it is amazing how many people don’t do it. Your children are going to read the will someday, assuming you’re a wealthy person. It’s crazy for them to read it after you’re dead for the first time. You’re not in a position to answer questions unless the Ouija board really works or something of the sort. So, if they’re going to have questions about how to carry out your wishes or why you did this or that, why leave them endlessly wondering after you die?”


We promise you, Ouija boards don’t work. So keeping your plans secret can leave your family members shaking their heads. One concern could be that your decisions were influenced by others. Or that you made a decision based on a fallacy, meaning a belief in something that ultimately turns out to be wrong. Telling people why you’re doing what you’re doing pulls back the curtain and shoes a light on your motives.


On this page we intend to link blog articles we will post over time looking at certain motivating factors. This is not an attempt to cover all motivating factors, and since we’re not psychologists, we don’t claim to offer professional opinions on the subject. We’re just giving you the benefit of what we know from countless conversations with people. We will also make reference to Christian scripture. You are free to ignore those references if you’re not a Christian, but we believe all wisdom is found in scripture and that it’s profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training. See 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

People Want Certainty

People Want to Honor Tradition

People Want Something Different

People Want Control

People Think They’re Right (and others aren’t)

Some People are in a Hurry

People Want to Follow God (or their views of right and wrong)

People Want to Protect Others (aka Paternalism)

People Want to Feel Significant (Legacy)

People Want to Express Love

People Express Dislike or Distaste

Some People Just Don’t Care

Some People are Greedy (they want more)

Some People are Fearful

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