With the Summer months upon us and children soon to be out of school, families will be traveling and vacationing more frequently. Vacationing is a time we are meant to enjoy ourselves while leaving the stresses of every-day life behind. With that said, the liberty of traveling puts in mind that we need to be cautious and aware of our surroundings in new and unfamiliar places. Transportation accidents, health risks, unexpected weather, crime, emergencies or terrorism are just some factors to consider. We get reminded we are only human and uncertainty awaits us.
As an Attorney practicing in estate planning it is not uncommon to meet with clients that are motivated to set up an estate plan due to their fear of traveling. However, we encourage these clients to be pro-active and to rest assured we will help prepare an estate plan before they take-off, drive-away, or sail-off.
Therefore, if you and your loved ones are planning a trip, it would be wise to consider creating an estate plan or updating your existing estate plan. First, before leaving town, make sure you have made any revisions to your plan to reflect your current family and financial circumstances. Perhaps you have recently gotten married or had children or are going through a divorce, either way, your estate plan needs to be updated. Second, make sure your health care surrogate designation and durable power of attorney documents reflect these updates and let your designated agents know ahead of time what to expect. Also, if you have minor children, it is prudent to name a guardian who is capable of taking care of your children if something happens to you. And of course, do not let your pets become neglected… set up a Pet Trust to ensure your pets will be cared for as well.
Lastly, let your loved ones know where you keep your important documents in case they need to access these papers while you are gone. Perhaps, you keep these documents at the bank in a safe deposit box. Make arrangements for any family members that stay behind and have a conversation with them letting them know how to go about taking care of any matters in the event you are unable.
Again, traveling is meant to be fun and is way more enjoyable when you know you have your affairs in order before leaving town. You and your family deserve to have peace of mind while on vacation. Take the time to plan ahead and protect you and your family for the unexpected.