Whether it is your first trip or your fiftieth, planning for international travel can be exciting and sometimes stressful. Among the items on your to-do list are stopping the mail, calling your credit card companies, and arranging for the care of your two- or four-legged children. But there are a few additional things you should consider before you head out on your next adventure.
Do you have a foundational estate plan? Has it been recently reviewed?
An estate plan is a set of instructions that explains to your trusted decision makers and loved ones your wishes about your care, the care of any dependents, and how your money and property should be handled. Depending on your unique situation and needs, you may have a last will and testament or a revocable living trust as the foundation of your estate plan. A will is effective only at your death. A revocable living trust, however, enables you to give ownership of your accounts and property to the trust but retain control of your money and property during your lifetime as the trustee and beneficiary. It also allows you to name someone to manage your accounts and property if you are unable to (and at your death) without court involvement.
If you have already created an estate plan, it is important that you periodically review any existing documents. Do they still reflect your wishes? Have there been any major changes in your life that might necessitate another look at your documents?
Can someone manage your financial affairs when you cannot?
If you are out of the country, it will likely be more difficult to handle your personal financial matters (e.g., writing a check for rent, following up on an insurance claim, etc.). However, you can name a person to handle these matters in a financial power of attorney. In addition to acting on your behalf while you are away, this person can also handle your affairs once you are home if you are unable to make your own decisions.
How will your medical care be managed during your trip?
A standard estate plan typically includes a medical power of attorney that appoints a trusted decision maker to make medical decisions for you, a living will or advance directive that gives instructions for your end-of-life wishes, and a HIPAA authorization form that grants named individuals the right to obtain your private healthcare information. Because these documents can be state-specific and may not be valid in the country to which you are traveling, it may be beneficial to look into how to name a medical decision maker under your vacationing country’s laws if you are going to be in one country for a long period of time.
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, do you have enough or the right kind?
A second type of insurance to consider is travel insurance. International travel can be more complicated, and having additional insurance can help you navigate the curve balls life can sometimes throw at you. Depending on the cost of your trip and the items you are taking, getting travel insurance may save you money in an emergency.
Life insurance is also important to have and review. It is essential to fill out your beneficiary designations correctly so your loved ones will receive the right amount in the way you want. It is also important to review the terms to see whether any of the activities you are considering engaging in during your trip will void your coverage. Sometimes activities like bungee jumping, sky jumping, and scuba diving can void your life insurance, which means that if you are in an unfortunate accident while participating in one of these activities, your loved ones may receive nothing.
What arrangements have you made for your minor children?
If you have minor children, you understand that traveling means preparing for yourself as well as your children. If they are traveling with you, you may need to obtain the proper travel documentation, such as a passport, and proof of your relationship to the children, like their birth certificates.
If your minor children will be staying with someone stateside while you travel, it is important that the chosen adult can make important decisions on your children’s behalf should the need arise. In most states, this can be accomplished with a document that grants temporary guardianship or decision-making authority to the chosen person. This does not eliminate your ability to care for your child—it just allows another person to do so as well for a limited period of time.
If you’re preparing to travel and you do not have these documents in place, we can help!
This article is a service of Stafford Law Firm. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.