If you are planning on going out of the area for a well-deserved vacation, estate planning may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, it is important to put plans in place in case of an emergency. Completing a few key estate planning steps before your vacation can help to ensure that your affairs at home continue to run smoothly while you are gone and provide you with the tools you need if you encounter obstacles while traveling. If you need help creating your estate plan, consider contacting an estate planning lawyer at Von Rock Law by calling (866) 720-0195 to set up your personalized consultation.
Why Should I Consider Estate Planning When Preparing for Vacation?
You might be thinking about the great cuisine, picturesque backdrop, luxury accommodations, or other alluring aspects of your upcoming vacation. Thinking about what could go wrong may feel like a detraction from what should be a pleasant experience. Nonetheless, it is important to consider what could happen while you are in another town, state, or country with which you might not be familiar.
Some potential risks you face while traveling may include:
- You could become ill because of unfamiliar foods or surroundings
- You could be harmed by criminals targeting tourists
- You could have your identification stolen and need to access your financial accounts
- You may need to access funds in case of an emergency, but you could be locked out of your accounts due to perceived suspicious activity
- Your child may have an emergency while you are away
- You could be injured while participating in an adventurous activity like snorkeling or ziplining
- You could be involved in a mass transit accident
Essential Estate Planning Steps Before Travel
While some considerations will depend on the distance traveled and the amount of time you plan to be away, there are a few general precautions that can be useful for most people in most situations. Here are some estate planning steps that you can take today to prepare yourself and your family for a safe and enjoyable experience:
Create a Power of Attorney
Consider creating a power of attorney so that you can designate an agent to handle your financial affairs while you are away. With a power of attorney, you can allow another person to handle such tasks as:
- Accessing your bank account
- Depositing checks
- Paying bills
- Registering your vehicles
- Renewing insurance policies
- Contacting your utility providers
Having a power of attorney in place helps to ensure that an individual you trust has the authority they need to keep your affairs in order while you are away. If there are any unexpected delays with your return, your agent can continue to manage the home front.
Prepare Healthcare Authorizations
You may want to create healthcare authorizations that outline the type of medical care you would want to receive if you were not able to communicate your wishes. according to the Orange County Office on Aging, under California law, anyone 18 or older has the right to determine the types of medical care they wish to accept, reject, or discontinue. Additionally, they have the right for these wishes to be considered by their health care providers if they become unable to make their own decisions.
Even if you travel to another state, most states honor such directives as long as they were made in a legally compliant manner in the state where they were created. The California Judicial Branch provides a two-part form that includes both a living will, which provides directions to healthcare providers in the event you are unable to communicate on your own behalf, and a power of attorney for health care, which designates an agent to make decisions for you if circumstances arise that are not explicitly addressed in your living will. You may also want to sign a HIPAA release form so that your health care agent can access and send medical records to you or providers in your destination.
Create a Will or Trust
A Last Will and Testament is probably one of the first documents that come to many individuals’ minds when they think of estate planning. However, estate planning documents are often most effective when used in combination, as part of an overall plan tailored to an individual’s unique circumstances and goals. There can be a number of advantages to forming a trust, especially when the trust is used in conjunction with a will to organize the distribution of assets in the event of one’s passing.
Last Will And Testament
A Last Will and Testament designates who will receive your property if you die. Additionally, in a last will and testament, you can:
- Name an executor who is responsible for carrying out the terms of your trust
- Name a guardian to care for your minor children
- Name individuals to manage property belonging to your minor child or children
A trust provides detailed instructions about how a trustee should manage the trust property for the benefit of your beneficiaries. For example, you can designate that trust property be kept and invested by the trustee to provide for the health, education, and welfare of your surviving spouse and children. A trust can also provide instructions on how property is managed during your lifetime, as well as if you become incapacitated.
Trusts and wills are complex legal documents. Language must be very precise to ensure your wishes are understood and carried out. An estate planning lawyer from Von Rock Law can help advise you about the documents you need and prepare them for you.
Organize Your Digital Accounts
You may maintain many of your finances online. Some accounts may even be exclusively online. Before leaving for a vacation, it can be helpful to share account information, or the tools needed to access such information in case of an emergency, with a trusted individual. This can be especially important for individuals who rely on a password service and therefore may not have the login information for each of their accounts memorized.
Enabling a trusted individual such as the agent for your financial power of attorney can be helpful in the event that you are not able to access your accounts personally because of limited connectivity or because transactions at an unusual location have raised fraud alerts. Whether you share your information with a trusted person directly or use a digital tool to store and share important information, for security reasons it may also be a good idea to set yourself a reminder to reset passwords after your return.
Prepare Documents for Your Children
While you are away, you may wish to delegate some responsibilities related to any minor children who are not accompanying you. For example, you might want to give the person with whom they will be staying the right to authorize medical care, pick them up from school, or go on a school field trip. You can generally do this by preparing a durable power of attorney for a minor.
Consult With an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer Before Going on Vacation
If you would like assistance with any of the estate planning steps, consider contacting an experienced estate planning lawyer from Von Rock Law. An attorney can discuss your situation with you, explain your options, and prepare estate planning documents that are tailored specifically to address your individual needs and concerns. You can reach our firm to schedule a confidential consultation by calling (866) 720-0195.