Getting ready to embark on your next great adventure? Before you zip up the last suitcase, here are five ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Review your documents: Because life circumstances often change, it is important that you periodically review your existing estate planning documents. Do they still reflect your wishes? Have there been any major changes in your life that might necessitate another look at your documents? Also, if you have a revocable living trust as part of your estate plan, is it fully funded? It is crucial that any accounts or property that are supposed to be owned by the trust have been properly retitled and, if there are any accounts or property that should name the trust as a beneficiary, the appropriate paperwork has been completed.
- Name someone to manage your financial affairs during extended travel: If you are out of the country for an extended trip, it could become more difficult to handle your personal financial matters (e.g., writing a check for rent, following up on an insurance claim, etc.). A durable financial power of attorney enables you to name a trusted person to handle your financial matters. When crafting a financial power of attorney, you can have it become effective immediately or only when/if you become incapacitated. In the case of international travel, you may want to consider giving the power immediately so that your chosen decision maker can respond as soon as there is an issue, regardless of whether you are capable of making a decision for yourself. In addition, you can tailor how much authority you give your chosen decision maker in the financial power of attorney. You may want to limit the person’s authority to actions related to a specific transaction, such as a real estate closing. This is a personal decision based on your unique circumstances.
- Health concerns while you are away: Even the healthiest person can develop a health issue while traveling. Although a standard estate plan typically includes a medical power of attorney, living will or advance directive, these forms can be state-specific and may not be accepted in another country. So, if you are traveling internationally and will be staying in a particular country for a long period of time, it may be beneficial to look into how to name a medical decision maker under your vacationing country’s laws.
- Double-check your health insurance coverage: Another thing to consider is whether your health insurance will be accepted overseas. In some cases, your health insurance may be valid only in the United States. It is important that you research this and, if necessary, look for a short-term policy that will cover you while traveling.
- Speaking of insurance, take a look at travel and life insurance: In addition to health insurance, strongly consider getting travel insurance. International travel can be more complicated than domestic travel, and having additional insurance can help you navigate any sudden health emergencies. Depending on the cost of your trip and the items you are taking, getting travel insurance may save you money in an emergency.
Also, be sure that you have adequate life insurance coverage. It is essential to fill out your beneficiary designations correctly so your loved ones will receive what you want in the way you want. It is also important to review the policy terms to see whether any of the activities you want to engage in while on vacation will void your coverage. Sometimes insurance companies will not pay out if you’ve engaged in extreme activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, and scuba diving. This means that if you are in an unfortunate accident while engaged in one of these activities, your loved ones may receive nothing.
We know that preparing to travel can have a lot of moving parts. But with a little extra planning, you can ensure that you are properly protecting yourself and those you love during your amazing journey.