Gabriel Katzner - September 21, 2020 - Estate Planning
Vacation consider these estate plan updates

After months of confinement, many of us are stir-crazy and eager to travel. Although more states are opening up, there are several factors to consider as you plan your travels. Consider these pre-vacation estate plan updates and preparations you can take care of before you travel for added peace-of-mind. 

Heed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The CDC has issued recommendations for those traveling outside of their local communities within the United States. (International travel is more complex.) Here are some issues the CDC has identified for those considering travel to another US community:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community or in your destination? If you are unaware, you have been infected, and are asymptomatic, you may spread the disease to a new location. If there are numerous COVID-19 cases in your destination, you increase your chances of becoming infected.
  • Will your travel plans require you or your companions to be within six feet of others during the trip? Being within six feet of others increases the risk of sharing COVID-19. If you are unable to engage in social distancing on a flight, bus, or train, or if you need to stop for gas, food, or restroom breaks when traveling by car, you and your companions could be at greater risk of spreading the virus.
  • Are there orders in place in your community or your destination requiring you to self-quarantine after arriving (or getting home)? You may be subject to local or state orders in your community or your destination to self-isolate for a couple of weeks after you arrive or return. Checking this beforehand can help you avoid inconvenience.

While you are traveling, continue all the safety practices you have been engaging in at home: frequent handwashing, avoiding touching your face, social distancing, wearing face masks, and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Have a plan in case of an emergency. 

Make sure your estate planning documents are up to date.

The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the importance of having an up-to-date estate plan, and this need is amplified if you plan to travel. The following are some of the most important documents to review with your estate planning attorney prior to traveling:

  • Will or trust: If you do not have an updated will or trust, take some time to make sure these documents are in place and current before you travel. If anything happens to you, your wishes will be followed.
  • Beneficiary designations and titles: If you have accounts with beneficiary designations (e.g., life insurance policy, retirement account, etc.), make sure the beneficiaries you named are still appropriate and are consistent with your other documents. If a death or divorce has occurred, you may need to revisit your original choices. In addition, make sure that you have transferred title to any assets you acquired into the trust to prevent the need for a lengthy, expensive, and public probate process in order to shift those assets to your beneficiaries.
  • Powers of attorney: Make sure you have a durable power of attorney for health care (also called a medical power of attorney or an advance health care directive). If you are incapacitated due to an illness or accident, this document authorizes a person you have chosen to make medical decisions on your behalf. Other related documents are also important, including a living will that explains your end-of-life wishes and HIPAA authorizations that permit your health care providers to discuss your medical issues with those you have named. 
  • Guardian designation: If anything were to happen to you while you are traveling, will the person you have named as a guardian in your will be able to care for your minor child. If you do not name a person in your will, a court must name someone. Although the court will make the best decision it can, its choice may not match yours.
  • Medical consent for minors: If you are traveling without your child, or if your child will be attending a summer camp, it is important to prepare a medical release form so authorities will have your consent to obtain medical care for your child if you are unavailable. You can also provide your child’s caregiver with a list of your child’s medications and allergies, as well as health insurance information so that the caregiver can make well-informed decisions regarding your child’s care if the need arises.

Contact Us Before You Travel

A vacation is about relaxation, rejuvenation, and fun. Don’t let your trip be marred by an avoidable crisis. Protect your health during your travels and ensure that your estate planning documents are up to date before you leave. We can help you design an estate plan that will protect you and your family if anything unexpected happens during your vacation. Bon voyage! 

You can schedule a call with us or reach us directly at 855.528.9637 to learn more about how best to plan today to protect those most important to you.

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