There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make you realize the importance of sharing life experiences and making meaningful memories with the ones you love. When we finally get an opportunity to go on vacation, we can spend so much time preparing to go: buying plane tickets, making hotel reservations, confirming rental vehicles (if you can get one), arranging for pets, doing laundry, and packing, but it is so easy to overlook planning for the worst.
We don’t want to think about how traveling could expose us to illness, injury, and even death. However, if something happens to you while your away, your loved ones could face a legal nightmare. Considering this reality, you must have a legally sound and updated estate plan in place before taking your next trip. Here 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, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, do not transfer through your 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 that you name a primary beneficiary and at least one alternate beneficiary in case the primary dies before you. Beneficiary designations should be regularly reviewed and updated, especially following major life events like marriage, divorce, having children, and changing jobs. Speak to a lawyer before naming your minor kids as beneficiaries!
2. Make sure you have well-drafted Power of Attorney documents.
Unforeseen illness and injury can leave you incapacitated and unable to make critical decisions about your own wellbeing. Power of attorney documents cover your healthcare and financial wellbeing. You should grant someone the legal authority to make medical decisions and healthcare decisions on your behalf. If you don’t have these documents done while you are mentally capable to do so, it will be too late. Should the worst happen, and you don’t have these documents in place, a stranger or someone you may have never picked could end up making financial and healthcare decisions for you. As with beneficiary designations, these decision makers can change over time, so before you leave for vacation, make sure these documents are up to date.
3. Name Guardians for your Children.
If you have minor children, your most important planning task is to legally document a guardian to take care of them in the event of your death or incapacity. Chose someone you and your children love and trust. This is the most important gift you can give your children.
4. Organize your Digital Assets.
How many digital accounts do you have, like email, social media accounts, cloud storage, and cryptocurrency? If these assets are not inventoried and accounted for, they will likely be lost forever if something happens to you. At minimum, 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 LastPass or a similar service that stores and organizes your passwords.
Complete Your Vacation Planning Now.
If you have a vacation planned, be sure to add these 5 items to your to-do list before leaving. And if you need help completing any of these tasks—or would simply like us to double check the plan you have in place—please give us a call. We would love to help you get this planning in place so you can leave for your vacation with peace of mind. Does anyone else take a couple of days into a trip to relax?