Estate Planning: Travel Edition
By: Daniela Alonso
Why is estate planning, especially before traveling, important?
1. The Unknowns of Travel
While one never wants to think the worst, especially not while planning for a vacation, it is important to recognize anything can happen and it is much better to prepared for anything, than for nothing at all. Estate planning does just that, it ensures that even if the unexpected were to occur you would be prepared.
2. Having a plan for your loved ones
Estate planning explains how someone wants their estate to be divided upon their death. Estate planning before travel can be really important, particularly in the case of parents with minor children who will be traveling without them. If that is the case, a limited power of attorney is a great tool. The person given this power will be allowed to make important decisions on your behalf. However, a limited power of attorney only allows the person appointed to make certain decisions and only in a specified period of time. This is beneficial because you can set very narrow constraints for its use. For example, making it valid only during the week you will be away and only regarding medical emergencies. Further, it is very useful to designate a guardian of person for your minor children in your will. That ensures that if anything were to happen to you, they would be in the care of the person you chose, rather than the person who the Court would appoint if you did not name someone.
3. Protecting your future decisions
The various documents that are part of your estate plan all help ensure that whatever decisions you wish to make now regarding your future will be followed through with. The next section of this blog will discuss some of the most common estate planning documents and a general overview of their purpose.
What documents should I have as part of my estate plan?
1. Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney or DPA is a very powerful and important document, which takes effect immediately after it is signed. The person who you designate to be your power of attorney will be able to make decisions regarding your finances, property, and legal matters. The person who you appoint to be your power of attorney has the ability to make crucial decisions on your behalf, therefore, it is imperative that you appoint someone who you trust.
2. Designation of Health Care Surrogate
A designation of healthcare surrogate will allow you to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions and receive medical information on your behalf if you are not able to do so. In conjunction with a Living Will, this is a great way to ensure your health care wishes are protected.
3. Living Will
A living will details a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment or end-of-life medical care in circumstances where they are not able to make these decisions for themselves.
4. Last Will and Testament
Lastly, a Last Will and Testament is the document that communicates a person’s final wishes regarding their assets. It outlines a person’s possessions and who they wish to devise them to.
What additional steps should I take if I’m traveling?
Designate your children or whomever you wish to be your P.O.D or payable upon death beneficiaries on your bank accounts. This will ensure that if anything were to happen to you, all the beneficiaries would have to do is go to the bank with a death certificate and be given access to the accounts. Failure to do this could result in a probate case in order to get those accounts to your loved ones.
Travelers insurance could also be a good step, some travelers insurance will pay for the cost of transporting a person back to their home country if they pass while in another country.
Make a copy of your passport. The U.S. Department of State recommends that each person have at least one photocopy of their passport. Having a copy of your passport can be very beneficial because it makes getting a new passport much easier if it becomes lost or stolen, which is especially useful if traveling internationally.
Make a copy of the front and back of your credit cards. In the event that your cards get stolen, the copy will have all the information necessary to call them in as stolen.
How can I start planning?
Lauren Richardson Law, PLLC
Want to know more about estate planning?
Read all about it in our Estate Planning blog: https://www.laurenrichardsonlaw.com/single-post/the-importance-of-estate-planning