Some of us thought we’d never make it to this moment, but here we are. We’re at the end of 2020. To use the lightest of terms, it’s been a crazy year: the coronavirus, heated politics, raging fires on the West Coast, the busiest hurricane season ever here in the East, and all of life’s usual hurdles in between. Throughout it all, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from 2020, it’s how important it is to slow down and cherish those things that mean the most to us.
Some might call 2020 “the year of family,” which is accurate in many ways and untrue in others. Yes, we’ve all spent a lot more time at home this year with the family we see every day, but we’ve also been away from extended family we don’t live with, and that’s been challenging. I certainly fall into both those categories.
While I may not be able to spend the holidays with my parents and siblings, I do get to be with my wife and daughter, much as I have for the entire year. And while that time hasn’t been perfect — which is how a lot of families are feeling — I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. Many families might be spending more time together at home, and yet they’ve grown disconnected with each other because of it. I’m thankful to say my family has grown closer than ever before, and that’s because we made a conscious effort to do so.
I think I’ve been ready to embrace this extra time together thanks in part to our family observing a Sabbath every week. For one full day we disconnect from the incessant distractions and just focus on living in the present. We have a no cell phone policy, we eat meals together, share what we are grateful for, and focus on our relationships. The pandemic has made that even more crucial, and my daughter and I have grown infinitely closer through all the board games, crafts, gardening, and drawing we’ve done together.
Everyone can make their own sabbath. Whether it be one hour or one full day. Dedicate a specific time where you commit to your family that you are all-in, at attention, and not distracted. You will find that this time together will enhance your relationships and bring you closer. And that means when 2021 officially rolls around, we won’t feel like we’re just escaping 2020 — we’ll take those incredibly valuable moments we created over the past year and make them even better in the new year.
All the bad news around us constantly can be very distracting. We should heed it when necessary, but if we let it consume us, then we miss out on the things that matter the most. So, if you have an idea for downsizing your screen use, simplifying your family time, or including everyone in meaningful activities, then make that one of your resolutions for the new year. It has been such a wonderful experience for me and my family, which made it a good year in my book.
Head into this new year with as much hope as you can muster. I know that can be hard at times, but if you have loved ones around you, they can truly make it easier. You just have to let them. You can end the year great and make all the years to come even better.
– Josh Whisler
2021: THE YEAR OF THE ESTATE PLAN
A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION TO HELP YOU PREPARE
You know what New Year’s resolutions are supposed to look like: Hit the gym, eat right, spend more time with family, start a new hobby, etc. All of those are great ways to kick off 2021, and they’re also all about being ready for what life throws at you next. But is your estate plan ready?
Folks often think this stuff is for later in life, for people with lots of money, or only in case of “bad things” happening. But that’s simply not true! Estate planning is for everyone who wants to be prepared for the year ahead and make the most of the law when it comes to their wishes, assets, and property.
Making (or updating) your estate plan also goes hand in hand with your other resolutions. Family time is wonderful, and with estate planning, you can spare your family a lot of trouble during hard times (and hard decisions) in the future. And if you’re a dedicated hobbyist — say, a firearms enthusiast or someone with a lot of money tied up in their hobby — a catalog of your property and wishes goes a long way in preserving your legacy. You’ll be amazed at how much control you have over what you own and create: possessions, real estate, intellectual property, and more.
It’s true that planning for hard times is part of this. Obviously, we don’t want to think about bad things happening to us, but part of being ready for a new year — especially after the trials of 2020 — means having our health care desires clearly written down. Yes, this includes do-not-resuscitate orders and powers of attorney, but it also includes living situations (at home, in a facility, with family, etc.) and personal beliefs regarding medical treatment. It’s a tough talk to have, but being unprepared in the face of adversity will be much tougher.
Last but not least, estate planning will make your life easier today. Of course, you’re going to feel relief having your plans created (or updated). But you can make the law work in your favor right now in all kinds of ways. Just one example is the use of a gun trust to make sure your firearms are secure from government seizure now and in the future.
We could talk about much more, but a lot will depend on you. No matter your circumstances, your plan will be unique, written by attorneys who get to know you. We’re here to do just that, as well as answer questions and anything else — we’re just a phone call away!
READY OR NOT, HERE COMES ‘WINTER’!
MANY DRIVERS AREN’T READY FOR WET ROADS. ARE YOU?
While drivers from Idaho to New York are skidding on ice and drifting into snowbanks, we Floridians get to enjoy the sun and … wait, is that a rain cloud? Let’s face it: Wet-season commuting isn’t always a Sunday drive. With weather worsening by the day, here are some tips for driving around town this winter — and a few for you holiday road trippers, too!
You won’t be surprised by this first one: Slow down! It especially applies when rain is coming down. Anti-lock brakes and steering assist are great, but they don’t make up for crummy road conditions. Rain means it’s hard to steer, hard to brake, and hard to see. Slowing down helps all of that and lessens the chance of an accident.
Speaking of seeing, let’s talk about lights. Have you ever noticed that motorcycles always have their light on? Modern bikes are impossible to run without the headlight. Take a page out of their book and keep yours on, too. This will help you see during storms and make you easier for other drivers to spot. Just remember that in fog, your high beams may make it harder for you to see ahead.
Even so, bad things can happen. If you do find yourself hydroplaning or losing control, don’t panic. Slowly back off the gas and steer where you want to go. Don’t stomp on the brake — braking while hydroplaning can cause you to lose control further. Car skidding out? Steer in the direction of the skid. When safe to do so, apply the brake. If you end up in an accident, call emergency services immediately and then your insurance company.
Outside of driving, make sure you have updated insurance and registration info in your car. A few blankets, a flashlight and change of batteries, and a set of jumper cables round out the start of an emergency kit for your vehicle.
With air travel still limited due to COVID-19, we expect a lot more road trippers than usual this holiday season. That emergency kit is a must for those drivers, as is awareness about road conditions they don’t usually encounter, such as whiteouts, icy roads, and driving on the sand or gravel some jurisdictions put down for traction.
We hope these tips help you stay safe this winter. And if you have questions, comments, or tips of your own, we hope to hear from you. Give us a call!