We are fast approaching the holidays, when travel is the busiest and careful planning is necessary to nab the best airfare or book that New Year’s beach cottage before it slips away. One thing that is probably not on your travel to-do list is estate planning, but it should be so you can travel with peace of mind.
Here are some tips to pack away your worries before you board that flight:
Complete your estate plan. If you’ve been putting it off, now is the time to complete your estate plan. If money is a consideration, then start with those the most important items: a will, power of attorney and advance health care directives.
Update an existing estate plan. Has something changed in your life since you last updated your estate plan? A birth, a death, a marriage, a divorce? Each of these triggers your need to update your estate plan.
Establish guardianship for minor children. If you have ever gotten a nagging fear about what would happen to your children if something were to happen to you, then use that fear to follow through on naming a guardian for raising your minor children. If you have young kids, there is never an excuse for you to neglect this important step.
Review beneficiaries. Beneficiaries of your retirement accounts, life insurance and other assets must be kept current or your assets will not pass to them upon your death. If you have minor children, you will need to set up a trust and name the trust as beneficiary so your assets can pass without court intervention.
Review/update incapacity documents. Two very important health care documents–a durable power of attorney for health care and a HIPAA Authorization–will determine who can make medical decisions for you and who has access to your medical records in case of incapacity. Be sure you have these documents before you travel and that the person/people named are still valid.
Review/update insurance. Does your life insurance coverage still meet your family’s needs? If not, it is time to update your insurance policy before you hit the road.
In addition, you need to be sure you have an organized file of all your accounts and estate planning documents and you need to tell your family where they can locate the file if and when it becomes necessary.
The time to create a plan that spells out how you will pass on your values, beliefs and your money to your children is now.