4 Critical Estate Planning Steps to Complete Before Going on Vacation

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According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.2 million jobs were lost in the hospitality industry in this country alone for the first two months following the World Health Organization’s declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some countries fared even worse. As the world shifts toward managing COVID-19 as an endemic disease, many tourist destinations are offering incentives for travelers to choose to stay at their resorts in an effort to reclaim these lost profits. If you are feeling the need to travel after years of pandemic precautions, you are not alone. However, before taking off on vacation, there are some estate planning steps you might want to take. If you are planning to take a vacation soon, consider contacting an estate planning lawyer from The Law Office of Jason Carr to update your estate plan. You can reach us by calling (214) 800-2366.

Create a Power of Attorney

The State of Texas permits the use of a power of attorney. Power of attorney is a legal function designating an agent to act on one’s behalf in a variety of legal matters, which are typically delineated in the authorizing documents. Individuals planning to travel might want a power of attorney in place so that someone else can manage their financial affairs while they are out of the area. Depending on how the power of attorney documents are drafted, the person granted power of attorney might manage such tasks as:

  • Using your bank account
  • Cashing checks
  • Making deposits
  • Paying bills
  • Accessing account statements
  • Renewing insurance policies
  • Renewing your vehicle’s tags and registration
  • Managing your business

Granting a trusted individual power of attorney can help keep a traveler’s financial affairs on track while they are away. Additionally, it can allow for continuity in case a vacationer is delayed from returning by the expected date due to unanticipated circumstances. Power of attorney documents can even be structured to make the designation durable, providing continued authorization in the event of long-term incapacity or other exigencies.

Sign Healthcare Authorizations

Unfortunately, many travelers do run into medical issues and injuries. While traveling, people may be eating food that is different their regular diet. Travel also frequently exposes individuals to unfamiliar environments, and travelers often take the opportunity to participate in activities they do not normally get to enjoy. While such changes of pace are among the most commonly cited reasons for seeking travel, they also come with risks. Many people preparing for a trip take reassurance from knowing they have a plan in place for handling any healthcare concerns that may arise. Some types of healthcare authorizations you might want to put in place before your vacation include:

  • Medical power of attorney: Texas Health and Human Services states that you can sign a document to give the person of your choice the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. If a medical provider needs to provide medical treatment while you are away, this type of document can give them information about whom they should contact for this information.
  • Living will: Your living will states what type of medical care you want to receive in end-of-life situations. You may want to carry this document with you, and consider having it translated into the official language(s) of any countries in which you plan to spend a significant portion of your trip.
  • Medical release form: You may want to sign a medical release form that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in case you need to authorize a local representative who can access your medical records in order to provide them to a treating doctor in another state or country.

All of these documents must generally be put in place before you suffer any incapacity. Without these forms in place, your next of kin or even a complete stranger may be making important medical decisions for you. An estate planning lawyer from The Law Office of Jason Carr can help put these documents in place before you leave so you can enjoy your vacation instead of worrying about worst-case scenarios.

Create a Will or Trust

While it is certainly not what anyone wants to think about when planning a fun vacation, death could occur at any time. To be prepared if the worst should happen, many individuals choose to establish one or more of the following documents before embarking on a vacation:

Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that states what an individual wants to happen to their property after they pass away. This document can do the following:

  • List your property and who should receive it
  • Designate contingencies in case a beneficiary predeceases you
  • Provide for circumstances that may happen after your death, such as your estate obtaining a personal injury award on your behalf
  • Name guardians for your minor children
  • Name individuals to manage your minor children’s property

Like a Last Will and Testament, a trust is a legal document. Some types of trusts, activated on the grantor’s death, provide guidance similar to that expressed in a will. However, a trust document can be much more detailed and thorough. For example, an individual could choose to deposit assets into a trust account and specify that the funds should be used to provide for the beneficiaries’ health and education until all of the trust assets are depleted. A grantor can also structure a trust to provide for their own needs in case of incapacity, or to support a spouse.

In some situations, you may want to have both a will and trust in place. An estate planning attorney can review your circumstances and explain your options.

Organize Your Digital Accounts

Many people conduct a significant portion of their business online. Therefore, if an emergency arises, a trusted individual may need to access information that is stored in a digital format. If you pass away without creating a digital estate plan or otherwise providing access to your digital assets, these could be lost forever or tied up in lengthy and expensive probate proceedings.

Using paper or a secure online format, record your login information, username, and other important details about each online account, before leaving for your vacation. You can provide this list directly to a person you trust, or use a digital tool that provides access to the information upon a specified event.

Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer for Help

While most vacations pass without serious incident, it is always a good idea to have a plan in place just in case you are delayed, injured, or otherwise prevented from carrying out your routine activities as expected. A knowledgeable estate planning lawyer from The Law Office of Jason Carr can review your current plan, update it, and explain what other documents might be advisable. Contact us today by calling (214) 800-2366 to schedule your confidential consultation.

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