Are you planning a vacation or going out of town on business?
Traveling can be fun and exciting. It can also come with unexpected risks.
Since we never know what the future holds for us, it’s best to be prepared. If you are planning to travel in the near future, then make sure you’ve done the following 3 things.
Review your estate plan.
Or if you don’t have one, then create one. An estate plan can include a will, living trust, power of attorney, advance health care directive, etc. While you may not need a trust (a will may be sufficient, depending), the documents you do need should be up-to-date before you travel. Ensure your designations are accurate, your documents are in a safe place, and your family knows how to access them.
At a minimum, you should have:
• A will that nominates guardians for minor children and designates distribution of your property in the event of your passing (if you own real property in California or elsewhere, then a trust will avoid that asset going through probate);
• A general durable power of attorney that designates an individual to handle your finances should you become unable to do so yourself; and
• An advance health care directive designating an individual to make medical and health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
You should also review life insurance policies to ensure you have an appropriate policy in place to take care of your family should the unthinkable happen.
Review titles and beneficiary designations.
If you’ve been through a divorce or lost a loved one, then these may need to be updated.
We recommend that you review the following:
• Bank account, retirement account, and stock “pay on death/transfer on death” designations;
• Life insurance beneficiaries; and
• Titles to real property and vehicles.
Update your plan for your children.
This one may be the most important on the list. Do you have a guardian designated for your children? Is the guardian aware of that designation and willing to serve as guardian? Do you have a backup guardian designated? Have you accounted for any new children in your will or trust? Are your children aware of the plan? It is hoped that you’ve answered “Yes!” to all of these questions; if not, then be sure you check them off the list before your trip.