Estate planning is one of the most critical arenas to prepare
My daughter Sally fell in love with horses before she was three. At birthday parties or petting zoos, we would see horses, and she was right next to them, mesmerized. A family trail ride gone wrong when I was little had instilled a deep fear of horses in me, but I knew I was going to have to confront my fear someday because I was raising a horse girl.
When Sally was around five, we were living in Louisiana, and I happened to start a conversation with one of the other moms. Of all the things, she was a horse riding instructor at one of the local farms. I perked up and before I could catch myself, blurted out: “Could you teach Sally how to ride?” followed up with a sheepish, “I’m terrified of horses.” Stephanie was all smiles and promised to help us both.
Let’s just say, Sally was beaming as we got to the farm for her first lesson. Her joy didn’t make my fear of horses go away, but it did allow me to take the steps forward to get comfortable around horses. Stephanie taught us both how you approach horses: come from the side so they can see you. Let them smell you so they can get familiar with you. No fast movements, talk to them as you approach so as not to startle them. Over time it was helpful to learn horses just startle easily—they don’t mean any harm; they just don’t realize how big they are.
Over the years, I’ve made it a point to be at most of Sally’s riding lessons. Each time I learn just as much as Sally does on her horse. When she first started jumping, her instructor kept saying, “Look where you want to go.” I assumed she meant it was for the rider to know where they were going, but I found it was so much more.
You look where you are wanting to go as a rider, to signal to the horse where you want them to go. As the rider turns their head to look toward the jump, this changes how the rider’s weight is positioned in their seat, and the horse senses that shift. How the reigns are held in the rider’s hands—that’s a cue, too. The rider squeezing their left or right leg on the horse, shoulder positioning—all these things are almost impossible to notice as a spectator, but if you get a close-up of the rider’s face, you’ll see pure concentration.
The truth is, I believe the horse lessons really mesh with lessons for being prepared in life, especially around finances.
When the rider is in the arena, they must be prepared, they need a plan, and they have to be confident and in control. They must be these things because they are riding on a horse who is bringing their own personality. The horse expects the rider to be in control, and if they sense the uncertainty, the horse will put themselves in charge. The rider must be focused and present to direct and guide the horse. They have to push the distractions out of their mind. Because no matter how prepared the rider is, they are on an animal that spooks easily, and there are many things out of the rider’s control. The ability to hold both trust and awareness together equally, makes a strong rider.
In finances, estate planning is one of the most critical arenas to prepare. Wealth.com, a new tool in the helpful Mosaic planning toolkit, positions it in a very frank way:
“No one likes to think about death, especially their own. But think about this: What will happen to your stuff—money, family heirlooms, even a pet—if something happens to you? If you haven’t created a document that tells your loved ones who should get what, and who should sign off on those decisions and do all the paperwork, your loved ones will have to decide for themselves.”
In my professional opinion, everyone should have an estate plan. Life has so much we can’t control, so it’s important to plan for what we can. An estate plan ensures what you want to happen will happen.
Next month, I’ll be talking more in-depth about some of the most important documents in estate planning, including Guardianship Agreements and wills.
Hopefully, this has given you an introduction to start thinking about why you may need a plan. If this has been something you have had on your mind, please reply to this email and we can talk it through.
P.S. I am proud to say my fear has gradually turned towards a healthy respect for horses. I have found joy and confidence from learning to ride horses myself. During one of Ryan’s deployments, I found life to be a bit challenging. I would escape out to the farm, tack up Bandit and go riding around the arena and out into the hills. I was able to trust and be present at the same time. Whether it’s horses or some other form of focus, I highly recommend finding a hobby that helps you be present and in the moment—leave the smartphones in your bag!
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