From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: Estate Planning Document Safekeeping while Traveling
Most Recently Updated August 10, 2018.
“My husband and I are traveling to New York and then upwards to New England and Canada for the next month. Should we do anything or leave any estate planning documents around just in case?”
Estate Planning Document Safekeeping while Traveling
The Big Three Estate Planning Documents.
When traveling, it is essential that all your estate planning documents are in order. While your estate plan might include other documents, almost every estate plan comprises three. I will focus my post on these three documents. But, if you have others, feel free to contact me for more information.
First, a Will.
Simply put, the Will controls who gets your probate assets at death. It also appoints the Executor, directs who inherits your pets, appoints your children’s guardian and funeral director. For more information, read my article about Last Will and Testaments.
Second, the General Durable Power of Attorney.
This document appoints your Agent. The document grants the Agent power to act for you in all things non-medical. For more information read my article Power of Attorney: Everything You Need to Know.
Third, the Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney.
Sometimes called the medical directive, this document spells out your medical philosophy and appoints a Surrogate. The Medical Power of Attorney gives the Surrogate the power to make medical decisions for you. These powers include the ability to authorize the cessation of medical care. For more information, read my article Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney: Everything You Need to Know.
Now, what to do with these Estate Planning Documents When Traveling.
Review Your Documents Before Your Trip.
A vacation provides you the opportunity to review your Will, Durable Power of Attorney and Living Will and verify those named are still up to the assigned tasks. If your memory of the documents is a bit rusty, contact your Estate Planning Lawyer for a quick review.
What to Do With Your Medical Power of Attorney When Traveling.
Most importantly, while traveling, you might fall ill. If you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, you are relying on your Surrogate under your Medical Power of Attorney. This person must be ready to quickly send a copy of your Medical Power of Attorney to whoever is providing you care. So, it would be wise to offer your Surrogate an electronic copy of your Medical Power of Attorney. Your Surrogate can then email the copy to the acting doctor, immediately gain access to your medical data and make decisions on your behalf. Further, bring a hard copy in your suitcase. This way you or your traveling companion can give a copy to the doctor, identifying it’s authority.
What to Do With Your Durable Power of Attorney When Traveling.
While someone might have to make a quick medical decision for you, there is not much chance of an emergency bill. Most financial decisions can wait a day or two. Giving someone a signed copy of your Durable Power of Attorney grants them access to all your finances and personal information. With my clients, we keep the original document safely locked in our Will safes. You give us the authority to release a copy ONLY if your agent can provide information proving your incapacity. Providing the proof might take a day or two, but it protects your assets and privacy. I suggest you utilize this same system with your Estate Planning Lawyer.
When traveling, you just inform your Agents that if you become incapacitated, they should contact your own Estate Planning Attorney or me. After confirming your incapacity, your Agent receives an electronic copy of the Durable Power of Attorney. This copy allows your Agent to pay your bills, secure your house, provide for your pets and handle other financial issues that might arise.
What to Do With Your Will When Traveling.
Letting your Executor know your Will’s location is always a good idea. If you die while traveling, your executor cannot file your Will until after your death certificate’s creation. The funeral director usually produces a death certificate after the funeral. So, there is no rush on obtaining the Will. Giving your executor the Will’s location is satisfactory.
More Planning Questions?
Estate Planning Document Safekeeping while Traveling is only a piece of the Estate Planning process. By all means, if you want to learn more, please read my more detailed article, Estate Planning Everything You Need to Know.
In Conclusion: Estate Planning Document Safekeeping while Traveling
I hope that this article was helpful in explaining Estate Planning Document Safekeeping while Traveling. Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website so you can learn more. Therefore, please contact me and let me know how I did. Certainly, your comments and questions are welcome!
Let our Estate Planning lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our experienced estate planning lawyers. By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!
Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation, It’s All We Do!
Author, Peter Klenk, Esq.