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Estate Planning Checklist Before You Travel

Travelers Today       By    David Thompson

Updated: Nov 16, 2022 09:31 PM EST

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Photo by Maria Ziegler on Unsplash

(Photo: Maria Ziegler on Unsplash)

So, you have plans to travel soon. Wonderful! Travel is such an enriching experience, exposing you to new places, cultures, and viewpoints. But before you embark on your journey, making sure that you have your estate in order is critical. Here is a short list of essential things to do to ensure your affairs are in order before heading out.

Secure Travel Insurance

While nobody wants to think about something going sideways while on vacation, the truth is that accidents and illness can happen to anyone, anywhere. If traveling abroad, it is essential to have travel insurance that covers you in case of an emergency. Take time to read the policy's fine print to understand precisely what is covered and what isn't.

Travel insurance typically helps cover the cost of medical care, emergency evacuation, lost or stolen belongings, and coverage for trip cancellation or interruption. In addition, some policies will provide coverage if you need to cancel the trip due to unforeseen events or circumstances.

Make sure that you have a good understanding of what your policy covers before you set off on your travels. 

Get Your Legal Affairs In Order

Nobody wants to think about what would happen if they were to pass away while on vacation suddenly, but it is vital to have plans ready in case the worst should happen. So if you need a will, now is the time to create one.

A will specifies how you would like your assets distributed after your death. If you pass without a will, the laws of your state of residence determine how assets get distributed, which may differ from your final wishes.

Create A Living Trust

In addition to a will, consider creating a living trust. A living trust helps avoid probate (the legal process through which your assets get distributed after your death,) which can be both time-consuming and expensive.

A living trust is a legal document that specifies how your assets are to be managed and distributed if you become incapacitated. You name a trustee (a person or institution) to manage the trust on your behalf, and you can specify exactly how and when you would like assets distributed.

If you have young children, you may also want to specify in your living trust whom you would like to serve as their guardian in the event of your death.

Make A Durable Power Of Attorney

A durable POA, or Power Of Attorney, is legal documentation that grants someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf if incapacitated or unable to do so yourself.

In your POA, you can specify what types of decisions your agent can make on your behalf. For example, you may give them the authority to pay your bills, sell your property, or make medical decisions.

It is vital to choose someone you trust implicitly to serve as your durable power of attorney; they will have much control over your affairs.

Prepare An Advanced Directive

An advanced directive, or a living will, is legal documentation that specifies your wishes regarding medical treatment if you become incapacitated. In your advanced notice, you can specify whether you would or would not want to receive life-sustaining treatments, such as CPR, mechanical ventilation, or renal dialysis.

These treatments typically don't reverse the underlying medical problem. However, they do help to prolong and sustain life.

An advanced directive can be an essential tool to ensure that your wishes get carried out if you cannot communicate them yourself.

Make A Plan For Your Pets

If you have pets, you must plan for their care while you are away and have a plan in case something unforeseen occurs while away from home.

You should designate a responsible friend or family member willing and able to take care of your pets if something happens to you. Make sure to provide all the necessary information, such as contact information for your vet, feeding and exercise schedules, and any special medical needs your pets may have.

This way, your four-legged friends will be well-taken care of even if you cannot take care of them yourself.

Final Thoughts

Nobody wants to think about something going bad while traveling abroad. That's the reason it is critical to prepare for anything. The good news is that you can travel confidently by getting your affairs in order, knowing that your proactive planning will handle the legal details if something unexpectedly happens to you.

This article was brought to you by Heban, Murphree & Lewandowski, LLC, an estate planning law firm in Ohio focused on helping individuals resolve their probate law issues.

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