Summary: Many people will travel during the late fall and winter months. Before you embark on your trip, you should.
With the holidays fast approaching, many people will undertake trips. Some may make a shorter trip to see family at Thanksgiving or Christmas, or others may plan a larger wintertime vacation escape cold weather. Regardless of your reasons, as you prepare to travel, your “to do” list should include taking a look at your estate plan.
If you haven’t completed an estate plan yet, now would be a good time to get that executed prior to your trip. Having your will and/or living trust executed and in place can provide you with a sense of relief from knowing that, if something unfortunate happens on your travels, you have a “roadmap” in place for your loved ones to follow to implement the legacy you want to leave behind.
It is also important to make sure that you have powers of attorney and a living will created, as well. Should you become ill or injured while you are away from home, having these documents will make certain that the person you want to make decisions for you has the legal authority to do it. To make sure that all of the planning decisions you make are well thought out, give yourself enough time to get your plan set up; don’t just contact your attorney a few days before you are scheduled to leave.
If you have already created a plan, make sure that it is up-to-date. If you have experienced any life events, such as family births, deaths, marriages, divorces, etc. since you last updated your plan, you will want to look into creating the appropriate update documents to make sure that your plan paperwork still reflects your planning goals. This can include checking on, and potentially updating, many items, including not only your will, living trust, powers of attorney and living will, but also any financial accounts or other assets that have death beneficiary designations attached to them.
In the event that you have minor children or children with disabilities still at home with you, it is extremely important that you make sure you have a plan in place to ensure their care. In your will, you can name the person you want (and who has already agreed) to serve as the guardian of your children. If you’ve already named someone, now may be a good time to review that choice, to consider whether that person is still best suited to handle this role. If you do not name anyone as a guardian, the courts will be forced to select someone without any input regarding your wishes.