6 Things to Do Before Your Next Vacation

Scheduling a vacation requires a lot of thought and planning.  It may involve booking a flight and hotel room, arranging for a rental car, and finding someone to look out for your home and pets while you are away. You plan to ensure that you and your family’s needs are met and to travel with peace of mind.  Making sure that you have addressed your estate planning needs will also give you peace of mind should something happen to your health and well-being while you are away.

  1. Have your estate planning done.

    If you have been procrastinating about creating your estate plan, use your next trip as a deadline to finally get this done. Be sure to allow plenty of time to get your estate plan completed in advance of your trip.  It can take several months from when you initially reach out to your attorney to discuss your wishes to the date when you execute your estate plan documents.


  1. If you already have an estate plan in place, review and update your existing plan.

    There are many life events that can have an impact on your family’s estate plan.  Revisions should be made any time there are major life changes (birth, death, marriage, divorce, etc.), finances, tax laws, or if a trustee or personal representative is no longer willing or able to serve. Again, be sure to allow enough time to have the changes made.


  1. Review titles and beneficiary designations.

    If you have a revocable trust and did not finish re-titling assets in the name of the trust and/or updating beneficiary designations, now is the time to do so. If a beneficiary has died or if you are now divorced, change these designations immediately. If a beneficiary is incapacitated or a minor, set up a trust for this person and name the trust as beneficiary to prevent the court from taking control of the proceeds or causing your loved one to become ineligible for federal or state benefits such as Medicaid.


  1. If you have children under the age of 18, review your plan to ensure that they are properly cared for.

    If you haven’t named a guardian who is able and willing to serve and something happens to you, the court will decide who will raise your kids without your input. If you have named a guardian, consider whether this person is still the best choice. Name a back-up in case your first choice cannot serve. You may want to consider writing a letter of instruction to be kept with your important legal documents.  This letter will outline what is important to you with respect your children to give guidance to your guardian.  Select someone responsible to manage any inheritance your child(ren) will receive.


  1. Talk to the people you have asked to act on your behalf.

    Make sure that you speak with the people you have named as your decision makers under your health care proxy, durable power of attorney, trust, and Will to be sure that they agree to act on your behalf if needed.  Also, make sure that they understand what the role you have asked them to serve and what your wishes are should they need to step into your shoes.


  1. Talk to your adult children about your plan.

    You don’t have to show them financial statements, but you can discuss in general terms what you are planning and why, especially when any changes are made. The more they understand your hopes and wishes as outlined in your estate plan, the more likely they are to accept them—and that will help to avoid discord after you are gone.

Do you have a vacation home that is a treasured heirloom and you want to pass it along to your family who will take care of the property? Add it also to your Estate Plan.

Ensuring that your estate plan meets your and your family’s needs takes planning, but the time and effort is well worth it.  You’ll enjoy your vacation even more knowing that your family is protected.


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