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You only turn 40 once in your life, if you’re fortunate enough. When I turned 40 a few years ago, my wife took me on a weeklong trip down the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, south of Cancun to explore the Mayan ruins and dive the flooded caves. Hands down it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever experienced. So this year, in celebration of my wife’s 40th birthday, I decided to plan a trip to southern Utah to hike across Zion National Park, hoping to match or beat our Mexico vacation. Let me just say – what we experienced at Zion National Park can’t possibly be captured in pictures or explained in words.
However, over the course of a three-part series of articles beginning with this one, I will share some of the highlights of our adventure, in particular how our life-changing experience relates to estate planning. Let me explain. Our vacations aren’t typical. We like to make sure every hour of every day counts, and we like to push ourselves to the absolute limits of our energy and patience. Most of the time, along the way, we learn something new about ourselves as individuals and as a couple. Just planning an extended trip like this one has its challenges, as is the case with estate planning.
We all know our final destination. Forgive my directness, but we’re all going to die one day. It’s the path we decide to take, the people we decide to take it with, and the things we decide to carry with us that make the journey. Ultimately, those decisions lead to where we end up, including the people in our lives, and the things we’ve carried along the way.
For our Mount Zion trip, I decided we would hike the Trans-Zion trail system – a stretch of almost 50 miles of linked trails from the western boundaries of the park down to the eastern entrance. Later in this three-part series, I will outline the planning, journey, mistakes, lucky breaks, and surprises (both good and bad) that we encountered along the trail.
As with estate planning, a trip of this magnitude requires planning and preparation – such as,
“How are we going to get there?” “What are we going to bring?” “Where will we get water on the trail?” “Will we need permits?” “Do we have the right gear?”
When it comes to your estate plan, it too requires planning and preparation – such as,
“Do we have all of our estate documents in order?” “Have we appointed just the right people to their respective responsibilities?” “How and to whom do I wish to leave my legacy?”
Even with the best-laid plans, the unexpected can happen. Still, whether it’s vacation planning or estate planning, it’s far better to plan than to have no plan.