There comes a certain time in each person’s life when he or she realizes that they are not going to live forever. At these moments one is called upon to make decisions as to what age appropriate activities yet unexplored will be experienced and what activities will forever remain a mystery.
There are more subtle choices remaining as we age which rationally may be pursued if one is willing to depart from his or her personal comfort zone and experience something different. These choices may be as simple as finally riding a roller coaster, taking dance classes or in my case sailing with friends. There is nothing more dangerous than committing to an adventurous activity a year in advance. It all sounds so far away when you consent to the activity and before you know it the event is right there in front of you waiting.
Such was the case for my wife and me. Our friends have a 38’ sailboat moored at Port Clinton on Lake Erie and we have a small vacation cottage on the North Shore of Lake Huron. It was only natural that at some point a suggestion would be made that we sail to the cottage from Port Clinton and after a couple of years discussing this somehow we agreed to undertake the trip.
I have been around water all of my life and like to swim. Those qualifications do not necessarily qualify to make me comfortable in 8-10 foot waves in a small boat in the middle of Lake Huron approximately 20 miles from shore. Our Captain assured me for several days that there was indeed a shoreline out there somewhere but I was somewhat challenged in believing him because I could not see any shore. Intellectually I knew there was a shoreline there somewhere, but physically I couldn’t see it and accordingly no increased level of comfort was achieved. In addition to this for a couple of days the water temperature in these eight to ten foot waves was approximately forty five degrees and the air temperature was not a whole lot higher.
In short I was officially out of my comfort zone and wholly beyond any ability to control either my environment or my circumstances. I was relying on the preparedness level of the Captain and the boat and many Presbyterian prayers. After several days of not perishing it suddenly dawned on me that I might indeed survive this adventure. As I am writing this it is evident that I have survived and have lived to tell the tale.
What is important to understand and the lesson to be learned here is that my survival in this case was no accident. The Captain of this ship and his wife are both experienced sailors and know their boat well. They are both attuned to maintaining the boat and all of its instruments, sails, motors and survival gear. This order that has been achieved on the vessel is not random chance. It is the result of constant work and maintenance which prepares their craft for each of its voyages. Accordingly even though the sail was a major adventure for my wife and me, it was just another well planned trip successfully plotted and realized for these two.
It is easy to contemplate many things when you’re being tossed about in ten foot waves in forty degree temperatures outside the view of land. As the shoreline recedes from sight many other things not regularly seen suddenly come into sharp focus. I am sure that my life was in no real danger on this small adventure, but the thought does cross your mind. One thinks about what things one has done in preparation of the inevitability of leaving this world for what lies ahead. Much of society today is fixated today upon the erroneous notion that human life as we know it may be prolonged indefinitely if we just take the right medication, lower our bad cholesterol, raise our good cholesterol, exercise regularly and call our family Physician every ten minutes with questions provided for us in infomercials on television.
Of course that notion is nonsense and we all know it, however, it is sometimes easier to rely on a hazy premise which we know to be false than it is to prepare for what we inevitably know will ultimately be true.
Estate planning can and should be regarded as a sailing adventure. We are all sailing through this life and moving inescapably toward a far horizon which cannot now be seen. The adventure of the trip can be made enjoyable through adequate preparation or can be quite unpleasant if there is no readiness for the voyage and the outcome of each day’s sail is left to happenstance.
Powers of attorney, wills, trusts, gift and Medicaid planning all can and should be considered as important tools which we will use along this journey to ensure safe and orderly passage. If you don’t have your arrangements made, it’s time to consider creating your own plan for the seas which lie ahead.
This post was written by David F. Bacon, Attorney and Ohio State Bar Association Board Certified Specialist in probate, trust and estate planning. David Bacon, Jeff Roth, and Jessica Moon are Members in Roth & Bacon Attorneys, LLC with offices in Upper Sandusky, Marion, and Port Clinton, Ohio, and Fort Meyers, Florida. They have focused their practice to provide estate and business planning concepts to their clients. Nothing in this article is intended for, nor should be relied upon as individual legal advice. The purpose of this article is to help educate the public on concepts of law as they pertain to estate and business planning. This is number one hundred sixteen of a series of articles. Additional articles will be published in the future. If you have any questions you would like to have answered, please contact us at our listed locations.
Copyright @ David F. Bacon 2013.