Planning a vacation is often what people look forward to most about the holiday season. It is a time for us to step away from our responsibilities and unwind. Whether you are planning a solo trip, get-away with your significant other, or family vacation, traveling gives you the opportunity to create lasting memories outside of your everyday life. And while planning for a trip can be a lot of work already, it is important to also think through what would happen if something went wrong while you were away from home.
Planning and traveling go hand-in-hand, but it's not just clothes and a toothbrush you need to pack– don't forget about your digital packing as well. Digital packing refers to making sure you have all of your important accounts and documents in order before you go. This includes things like your Will, healthcare directive, and Guardianship documents. Why are these documents so important? If you are traveling outside of your hometown and far from many of your loved ones, should you end up in an emergency, you'll want to be prepared. Additionally, if you are traveling with minor children, Guardianship documents are an essential safety measure. In this guide, we'll show you the best way to counteract any unexpected travel mishaps: updating your Estate Plan, including healthcare documents, and making sure the right people have access to it.
What is Estate Planning and Why is it Important?
Estate Planning is the creation of a detailed document laying out your plans for your assets should you die, or if you can longer be responsible for them yourself. Your assets can include but are not limited to:
Not only does Estate Planning detail what should happen to your assets, but it allows you the chance to make known your wishes regarding your health directives and welfare of your minor children should you become incapacitated by an illness, tragic accident, or any other debilitating circumstances. By creating and updating your Estate Plan before you travel, you are taking necessary precautions to protect yourself, your children, and your assets.
Digital packing tips when traveling
There are several parts of your Estate Plan you will want to update before you set off on your trip. Make sure that you have these items checked off your digital packing list before you go– and most importantly, share these documents with someone at home.
Wills and trusts
Your Will gives a more detailed account of your assets and who is to receive your belongings upon your death. The list of your assets you will want passed along to your loved ones may change over time, which should in turn affect your Will. It is easy to put off updating your Will as you are already juggling so many other day-to-day tasks and pressing responsibilities. In between work, dropping off and picking up your children from their daily activities, completing your long list of household chores, and so much more, it can feel impossible to find the time to update your Will. However, before a trip is the perfect time to make sure your Will is fully up to date in case of an unforeseeable occurrence.
A Trust is a legal document in which you appoint the responsibility of managing your assets to a Trustee of your choosing. It is common to make yourself the Trustee, with a successor Trustee listed in case you find yourself in a position where you cannot be responsible for your assets. A Trust also allows for a smooth transition of your assets upon your death, often granting your loved ones the ability to skip probate court entirely. If you have a Trust in addition to a Will, it will be important to thoroughly review them before traveling to make sure all assets you want included within your Trust are accounted for.
Healthcare Directives are essential to ensure that your desires regarding your healthcare preferences are carried out as you would want them to be, even if you are unable to verbalize your wishes to medical personnel. Your Healthcare Directive is a document that states specifically what your requests are, while also listing who of your loved ones is allowed to make decisions on your behalf when you cannot do so yourself.
When traveling, it becomes even more important that your healthcare directives are fully up to date. If you are traveling, perhaps outside of your home country, and far from many of your loved ones, should you end up in a life-threatening situation, a coma, or in need of emergency surgery, you will want to make sure your healthcare wishes will be met.
It can often be beneficial to add one of the people you are traveling with to the list of people allowed to receive medical information on your condition for the duration of the trip. No one wants to be involved in a situation whereby they are hospitalized and incapacitated in a location far from home, with no one there to speak on your behalf regarding your medical decisions. By adding a member of your traveling party to your Healthcare Directive for the duration of the trip, you can rest more easily knowing you have prepared for any unfortunate situation that may arise.
If you are someone with minor children, Guardianship documents are an essential safety measure when traveling. These documents will specify to whom you give authority over your minor children if you cannot care for them due to death or a medical emergency. When you are traveling, it can increase your chances of being in an accident. Additionally, if you are taking a family vacation, it can increase the risk of both parents becoming incapacitated or dying at the same time, leaving your children unattended to and unprotected. However, with nomination of Guardianship documents, you can ensure that you have a set plan for your children’s care, even in the unimaginable, worst-case scenarios.
Upload and share documents
It's crucial to have all of your documents in one place that is easily accessible to both you and your loved ones. There are many digital vault services that can provide you with a secure location to upload and share your documents. This way, should something happen to you while you are away from home, your loved ones will be able to quickly and easily locate all of the information they need in order to make important decisions on your behalf.
Here at Trust & Will, we offer a shared access feature for your Estate Plan so your loved ones can view your important documents. You can upload your Estate Plan and notify the people who may be included in it, for example an Executor or Beneficiary. Enjoy the gift of peace of mind on your next vacation (and beyond) by knowing you have a solid plan in place and people you trust have access to it.
Traveling can be such an exciting and fun adventure to share with your loved ones, especially during the holiday season. However, travel does pose some added risks to the safety and health of you and your family members. The last thing you want on your mind during your vacation is worrying about the unpredictable. Luckily, with Trust & Will’s online Estate Planning services, you can prepare for any situation you may face. You can create a fully customizable, state-specific Estate Plan from the comfort of your own home in just 20 minutes. Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our different estate planning options today!
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Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. We are not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.