Estate Planning: The ‘What if’ Travel Checklist

Tamara Polley
By Tamara Polley June 15, 2017 18:44

How many of us have had this experience: We spend hours or days planning a vacation, arranging transportation, lodging, itineraries, clothing, etc., taking care of every detail of the trip ahead.

Suddenly, within hours of departure, it dawns on us that we are going to get on a plane and travel thousands of miles in the air. What happens if the plane goes down?

Google the term “travel checklist” and you will find the internet bursting with suggestions for your next trip: packing lists, international travel guides, itinerary suggestions, even gender-specific checklists for men and women. Or, enter a destination and get a plethora of suggestions specific to your intended location.

But what about a checklist for all that you leave behind? This is a “before you travel” guide:

Update your legal documents. Like applying for a passport, this should be addressed well in advance of your vacation so that you have time to get it done. Please don’t call your attorney two days before you leave and expect to get new documents prepared before you board the plane.

Review your paperwork to make sure that the appropriate people will be able to step in if necessary, and that the documents you have are sufficient to accomplish your wishes.

Have your will and trust been updated? Are your assets titled appropriately to avoid probate? Do you have a power of attorney in place so that your agent can handle financial matters for you while you are gone?

Organize your paperwork. Make sure that your agent – a trusted family member, friend or advisor – can access and find any paperwork they might need to manage your affairs.

  • Show your agent your filing system and where your documents are located
  • Make a list of your accounts and where they are held, and contact information for your advisors
  • Provide your agent with account passwords and the combination to your safe
  • Give your agent a copy of your itinerary and contact information for you while you are gone
  • Arrange for bill payment in your absence

Leaving minor children behind? Make sure that the person caring for them has written authority to seek medical attention for them in your absence. Leave copies of medical insurance cards, a list of any medications with dosage instructions, and information about allergies.

Photocopy your travel documents. Make two copies of all your travel documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with your agent and carry the other copy separately from other documents in case of loss or theft.

Do you have a medical directive? Carry a copy with you in case of emergency. However, be aware that if you are traveling internationally, the document may not be legally binding in a foreign country.

Prepare your home. Unless you have a house sitter, make sure that your home is secure while you are gone:

  • Have the post office hold your mail
  • Stop newspaper delivery
  • Set up a timed light system
  • Leave a key with a trusted friend or neighbor, and arrange for someone to check on your property periodically

This checklist isn’t as exciting as the online “Roman Holiday Style Guide: Your Ultimate Female Packing List for Summer in Rome” or “Ultimate Outdoor Travel Checklist” for men. But by accomplishing some of these tasks in advance, you will be able to sleep well before you leave – and perhaps even while you’re away.

Tamara Polley is an attorney with Gianelli & Polley, a Sonora law firm,

Copyright © 2017 Friends and Neighbors Magazine

Tamara Polley
By Tamara Polley June 15, 2017 18:44
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