Going on vacation entails lots of planning: packing luggage, buying plane tickets, making hotel reservations, and confirming rental vehicles. But one thing many people forget to do is plan for the worst. Traveling, especially in foreign destinations, means you’ll likely be at greater risk than usual for illness, injury, and even death. I know, I know, I’m such a downer!
In light of this reality, you must have a legally sound and updated estate plan in place before taking your next trip. If not, your loved ones can face a legal nightmare if something should happen to you while you’re away. The following are 4 critical estate planning tasks to take care of before departing.
1. Make sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date
Some of your most valuable assets, like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, do not transfer via a will or trust. Instead, they have beneficiary designations that allow you to name the person (or persons) you’d like to inherit the asset upon your death. It’s vital you name a primary beneficiary and at least one alternate beneficiary in case the primary dies before you. Moreover, these designations must be regularly reviewed and updated, especially following major life events like marriage, divorce, and having children. The key? YOU CANNOT NAME A MINOR CHILD! Even as a backup. No really. You must have a trust as a backup to receive the payout on behalf of your minor children.
2. Create power of attorney documents
Outside of death, unforeseen illness and injury can leave you incapacitated and unable to make critical decisions about your own well-being. Given this, you must grant someone the legal authority to make those decisions on your behalf through power of attorney. You need two such documents: medical power of attorney and financial durable power of attorney. Medical power of attorney (included in Advance Directives) gives the person of your choice the authority to make your healthcare decisions for you, while durable financial power of attorney gives someone the authority to manage your finances. As with beneficiary designations, these decision makers can change over time, so before you leave for vacation, be sure both documents are up to date.
3. Name guardians for your minor children
If you’re the parent of minor children, your most important planning task is to legally document guardians to care for your kids in the event of your death or incapacity. These are the people whom you trust to care for your children—and potentially raise them to adulthood—if something should happen to you. Given the monumental importance of this decision, I’ve created a comprehensive system called the Guardian Guide™ that covers this entire process and includes the legal documents naming these guardians as well as your family first response plan.
4. Organize your digital assets
If you’re like most people, you probably have dozens of digital accounts like email, social media, cloud storage, and cryptocurrency. If these assets aren’t properly inventoried and accounted for, they’ll likely be lost forever if something happens to you. At minimum, you should write down the location and passwords for each account, and ensure someone you trust knows what to do with these digital assets in the event of your death or incapacity. To make this process easier, consider using a service that stores and organizes your passwords.
Complete your vacation planning now
If you have a vacation planned, be sure to add these 4 items to your to-do list before leaving. And if you need help completing any of these tasks—or would simply like me to double check the plan you have in place—send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recommend you complete these tasks at least 8 weeks before you depart. However, if your trip is sooner than that, call and let me know you need a rush Family Wealth Planning Session, and I’ll do my best to fit you in as soon as possible.
What is a Personal Family Lawyer®? A lawyer who develops trusting relationships with families for life. That’s why Breiner Law Firm offers a Family Wealth Planning Session where I can review your family wealth needs and help identify the best strategies for you and your family. I don’t just draft documents; I ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. While preparing for your Session, you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge. You can begin by scheduling a time for us to sit down and talk because this planning is so important.