Here are five things to consider before embarking on your next adventure to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones:
1. Have you established a basic estate plan, and, if so, have you had it reviewed recently?
An estate plan is a set of documents that outline your wishes for your care and the care of any of your dependents, as well as the management of your finances and assets. You provide these instructions to trusted individuals who can make decisions on your behalf.
Last will and testament
One aspect of an estate plan may be a last will and testament, also known as a will. This document allows you to appoint someone to handle the distribution of your assets and property after your death. You can also name a guardian for your minor children, if you have any. However, a will only goes into effect upon your death, and the probate process (a legal procedure overseen by the court to validate the will and to make sure it is followed correctly) may be necessary to carry out its provisions. This process can be costly, time-consuming, and public, which is why it’s important to consider all of your options when creating an estate plan.
Revocable living trust
This is document that you create that sets out how your assets and property will be managed both during your lifetime and when you pass away. For the trust to work, you have to transfer certain of your assets and property to the trust. For your trust to own your accounts and property, they will either be retitled in the name of your trust (instead of in your sole name) or the trust will be named as the beneficiary that will receive money and property at your death. The trust document provides instructions to the trustee, who is the person you have chosen to manage the trust. Initially, you will serve as the trustee of your own trust, which means you maintain control over the trust’s assets. You can also continue to benefit from these assets as a trust beneficiary. If you become incapacitated or pass away, the successor trustee you have designated can take over management of the trust without court intervention. Because the trust owns your property or is named as the beneficiary of your assets, there is nothing that needs to go through probate upon your death. The trust becomes effective as soon as you sign it.
Review your documents
It’s important to regularly review your estate planning documents to ensure that they still accurately reflect your wishes. If you have experienced major life changes, you may need to reconsider your estate plan. If you have a revocable living trust as part of your estate plan, it is crucial to ensure that all accounts and property intended to be owned by the trust have been properly transferred, and that any accounts or property naming the trust as a beneficiary have the appropriate documentation in place.
2. Can someone manage your financial affairs when you cannot?
If you are traveling abroad, it may be more challenging to manage your personal financial affairs (such as paying rent or following up on an insurance claim). However, just because you are unable to do these things does not mean that they cannot be handled by someone else.
To appoint a trusted individual to handle your financial affairs while you are abroad, you can create a durable financial power of attorney. This document allows you to specify when the person you have chosen should have the authority to act on your behalf. You can choose to grant this power immediately, or only in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. If you are traveling internationally, you may want to consider granting the power of attorney immediately so that your chosen decision maker can act quickly if needed. You can also customize the level of authority granted to your decision maker, whether it be limited to a specific transaction or broad enough to cover most financial matters. This is a personal decision based on your specific needs and circumstances.
3. How will you manage your health while you are away?
To ensure that you have someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if necessary, it’s important to appoint a trusted individual through a medical power of attorney, sometimes called an advance health care directive. This is often included in a comprehensive estate plan, along with a living will or advance directive outlining your end-of-life wishes, and a HIPAA authorization allowing named individuals to access your private healthcare information. Keep in mind that these documents may not be recognized in other countries, so if you are traveling internationally for an extended period of time, you may need to consider naming a medical decision maker according to the laws of the country you are visiting.
Additionally, it’s important to determine whether your health insurance will be accepted overseas, as it may only be valid in the United States. If necessary, you may need to secure a short-term health insurance policy to cover you while traveling.
4. Speaking of insurance, do you have adequate insurance?
There are two other types of insurance that can be useful while traveling: travel insurance and life insurance.
Travel insurance can help you navigate unexpected complications that may arise during an international trip, and it may save you money in an emergency, depending on the cost of your trip and the items you are taking.
Life insurance is also important to have and review. It’s essential to correctly designate beneficiaries and to review the policy terms to ensure that your coverage will not be voided by any activities you plan to engage in while on vacation.
Some insurance companies may not pay out if the insured has participated in extreme activities such as bungee jumping, skydiving, or scuba diving, so it’s important to be aware of any exclusions in your policy.
5. What arrangements have you made for your minor children?
If you have minor children, it’s important to make arrangements for their care while you are traveling. If your children will be traveling with you, they will need a passport, which needs to be renewed more frequently for children than for adults.
Some countries may require proof of your relationship as a parent or legal guardian to ensure the safety of the children. If your children will be staying with someone else while you are away, it’s important to have the appropriate documentation in place to authorize the chosen adult to care for them.
It’s also important to have a last will and testament that names a guardian for your children in the event that you and their other legal parent are unable to care for them. While such a document does not avoid court involvement, they can help ensure that your wishes for your children’s care are honored.
We can help!
We understand that planning for international travel involves a lot of considerations. Let us help you ensure that you are properly protecting yourself and your loved ones during your trip. Contact us to schedule an appointment before you leave.