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Retirement isn't always the end of the road.

I retired from the military just over 8 years ago. It didn’t seem real, at the time – I’ve even talked in a previous post about how hard it was to “break up” with the military. I also retired early due my field being over-manned and force reduction measures being offered, which added to the shock since it was just assumed I’d do the full 20.

Currently, a bunch of my military friends are nearing that 20 years of service or have recently passed that, and now moving toward retirement. Let me tell you, retirement from the military is a huge change in life, even when it’s planned. Even in the best of circumstances, it can be really difficult to navigate so many unknowns: What will this mean for my life? Am I starting all over again or continuing on with a similar type of path? Do I pivot and change direction altogether?

We leave the military, then wonder, “What now?” Most of us who retire from the military are too young to truly retire. So, we take on side hustles, find civilian work, or maybe even move to our dream locale and start a whole new career. Putting down roots after having wings for so long can seem to be an impossible feat.

One benefit to this reality is that I now have friends all over—and they usually end up in places people want to visit. I have lots of vacation destinations with friends waiting for me to visit.

The downside is that starting over is hard. Charting a new path and being the “oldest kid in school” when pursuing a new degree or advancing to the next stage in your educational path to a new career can be intimidating.

It was never my plan to retire and become an estate planning attorney. If you had told me years ago, “In 2019, you’ll be opening a law firm,” I would not have believed you in a million years. It was never something I thought I would do, could do, or should do. But here we are. Am I satisfied? Yep. Am I finished? Not even close.

I think a lot of people who retire from the military feel that way. Even if we had a plan for retirement, life may take us in a direction we never anticipated, or land us in a whole new career we never imagined. We can’t know for sure where we’ll end up, until we’ve arrived there.

Estate planning is the same way, in a sense. No one knows what might happen in the future, in retirement or in life. The good thing about estate planning, though, is that you don’t have to see the end result to get started—you just need to take that first step and get your plans on paper. My job as an estate planning attorney is to help you prepare for all possible outcomes, so that your situation doesn’t end up as someone else’s cautionary tale. Having a plan in place for your estate can make all the difference, even a world of so many unknowns.

When you’re approaching retirement, even if temporarily as you move to that next chapter, that’s a great time to look at your estate plan. That way, no matter what your situation ends up being after retirement, you know you’re prepared.

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