Important Estate Planning Steps Before You Travel
When you are busy preparing for your leisure or business trip, it’s easy to ignore the worst-case scenarios that can happen during travel. But it is prudent to act with foresight and ensure your estate planning documents are in place before you decide to go on your next trip.
Traveling puts you at a greater risk of injury, illness, and even death. This is especially true if you are visiting a foreign destination. Pre-travel estate planning with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney can give you the peace of mind needed for enjoying your travels.
Create your Last Will and Testament
You should make sure that you have a current and legally binding will that designates the beneficiaries, appoints someone to settle your affairs, and names guardians for any minor children. You may want to use your next travel dates as the deadline to have a will all set up if you have been procrastinating about this.
It is best to have a seasoned estate planning attorney draw up the will and testament to ensure everything is done legally. You can start with a simple will or trust, healthcare documents, and power of attorney. You can always upgrade the documents as your circumstances change.
Make sure you allow adequate time for discussing your estate planning objective and to execute and review the documents drafted by the lawyer well in advance of your trip.
Update Your Existing Estate Plan
Revisions should be made any time there is a life-altering change. This includes birth, marriage, divorce, remarriage, or death in the family. You may want to review the estate plan if there have been significant changes to your finances or the tax laws, or if an executor or trustee can no longer serve.
Your travel plans are an excellent excuse to have these changes made. Make sure you allow enough time to have the will updated and changes made.
Review the Beneficiary Designations
Now is the time to take care of any changes to living trusts regarding beneficiary designations and titles. There are certain assets that shouldn’t really be made part of a trust. You should check with your attorney about these to ensure they remain as intended. You should make prompt changes to the trust if a beneficiary has divorced or died.
Setting up a trust for an incapacitated person or a minor and naming them the beneficiary will prevent the court from controlling the assets. You can make sure your loved ones get what they are supposed to.
Consider Your Plan for Minor Children
In case something happens to you on your travels, the court will decide (without your input) who will raise your children. You can prevent this from happening by naming an able and willing guardian to take care of your children. In case you have already named a guardian, consider whether this person is still the best choice.
You may have named the guardian when they were younger. They may no longer be the best choice as they get older. This person may also have moved away, changed their mind about serving as the guardian, become ill, or died. In fact, you should always name at least one successor in case the first choice is unable to serve. You can seek your attorney’s advice to choose a responsible person that can take care of the inheritance.
Prepare Incapacity Documents
These are a few documents that everyone in your family should have:
- Healthcare power of attorney providing another person with the legal authority to make medical decisions if you are unable to do so
- Living will describe the type and length of life support treatment
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization
Organize All Documents and Accounts
This is an important task to do before you head to the airport. You need to ensure your executor or trustee can easily fulfill your will. Make a list of all accounts and where the usernames and passwords are located.
Review and update this before each trip. You may want to store a hard copy as well in case the computer crashes or gets stolen.
Place all financial and other important files in an easy-to-find location on your desktop. Don’t forget to make a backup copy in case the computer crashes or gets stolen. You may want to consider using a digital vault service for this purpose. There are several services that allow the storage of documents and data in a secure location.
This will allow your loved ones to locate all the information easily and quickly should something happen to you while you are away. They will be able to make all important decisions on your behalf as per your wishes.
Our Estate Planning Lawyers are Here to Give You Strong Legal Advice and Support. Call Now.
You can get started on your estate planning documents right away by scheduling an appointment with a knowledgeable attorney at the law office of John H. Ruby & Associates. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can ensure you have all the necessary documents in place before your next trip.
Call us at (502) 895-2626 or reach us online to schedule your complimentary consultation with a member of our legal team.