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A Surfer’s Analogy for Doing Estate Planning

estate planning before a crisis

I personally draw many analogies and life lessons from surfing and being in the ocean. I believe that nature tells us so much about life if we only care to listen. Does it make sense to plan ahead for the big storm swells of life while seas are relatively calm?  Unfortunately many people wait until the storm surge is at their front door. This article draws on this analogy to point out the importance of estate planning before a crisis occurs when seas and calm and skies are relatively clear.  Because the alternative of trying to plan during a crisis only leads to unnecessary stress and challenges for families.  

How do swells and storms relate to your Florida estate planning?

The waves of the ocean roll in with varying patterns. Some days offer huge swells while other days only calm seas. Nonetheless, the waves keep coming on their own power without any help from us. However, we all can guess the results if we’re unprepared for life’s inevitable storms.

The Importance of Doing Your Florida Estate Planning Before A Crisis Occurs 

Waves Are As Events In Our Lives…

To me the waves are analogous to the events of our lives and they just keep on coming. It is up to us to learn how to negotiate these wave events. In many ways it is also up to us to determine whether we want to learn to really enjoy these waves and perhaps even learn to ride them, in the moment, with a big goofy smile on our face. For those who can master the ability to stay in the moment and simply be present to everything, life’s gifts truly can begin to unfold. I believe this is the secret to a great life.

Estate planning and other “big people” topics such as estate taxes, life insurance, special needs planning and Medicaid planning in Florida, all involve our planning process of learning to ride the various waves that show up in our lives successfully. Although we do not know what kinds of waves will show up on a given day, we do know that eventually storms form and big swells will inevitably come to our shores.

The big swells are analogous to big life events and the question is whether we took the time to prepare? For a surfer, lots of preparation may occur on “smaller” days and may involve purchasing the right equipment or staying in shape. In fact, lots of surfers go out regularly just to stay “tuned up.”

In estate planning or business succession planning, important decisions such as who will the successor trustee be for your revocable trust, or who will be responsible for medical decisions if you cannot make them all involve careful consideration that is best achieved in times of calm.

An estate planning “tune up” may involve updating your Florida estate planning documents or creating new documents for estate planning or business planning purposes and times of crisis are NOT the best time for this step.

In the same way that consistent preparation will allow the surfer to navigate a big surf day with grace and ease, this same preparation during times of calm can enable us to navigate major life events with the reassurance of a clear plan.

Like Waves Rolling In – Life Continues To Happen

The “take away” today for all you life surfers, and that is all of you, is that life events, like the waves of the ocean, will continue to happen and many of us know that being smashed by a wave when not prepared can be a humbling and frightening experience.

A great quote that comes to mind is: “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

I encourage you to stay prepared for life’s big swells and storms.

Steve Gibbs, Esq.

This is an updated version of an original post dated April 23, 2015.  

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