A Note From Paige
I hope that you've had a safe and relaxing summer season so far. Amid all the packing and vacation prep, it can be easy to forget to make sure your affairs are in order before you leave. This month, I'm sending you a list of documents to update before you leave for vacation.
Add These Documents to Your Vacation Planning To-Do List
If you're traveling this summer, you've probably made arrangements to take time off of work, created an itinerary for your trip, and put together a list of what to pack. Have you thought about making sure that your estate plan has been updated before your trip? Here are a few documents you should update prior to your vacation:
1. Your Will and/or Trust. Call your attorney well in advance of your trip and schedule an appointment to go over your will and/or trust. Take the time to ensure that everything is in order, especially if you haven't updated your will and/or trust recently.
2. Caregiver Power of Attorney or Guardianship Provisions. If you aren't traveling with your children, make sure that whoever is taking care of them while you're gone can make medical and other decisions on their behalf.
You should also make sure that the guardianship provisions in your will are updated. If something happens to you while you're gone, you need to make sure that your children have a guardian. If you don't plan ahead, a court could decide who will raise your children.
3. Beneficiary Designations for Life Insurance, Retirement Plans, Brokerage Accounts, etc. These are not probate assets, and it is vital to make sure that your beneficiaries are updated.
4. Georgia Advance Healthcare Directive. You should have a Georgia Advance Healthcare Directive, which allows you to appoint a health care agent who can make health care-related decisions on your behalf if you cannot make those decisions yourself. This document also allows you to direct the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures and nourishment if you are in a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness. If you have a living will and power of attorney for health care that predate 2007, the Georgia Advance Healthcare Directive doesn’t nullify what you have, but take the time to read through and make sure your wishes are still the same.
5. Power of Attorney Documents for Finances. You can appoint an agent to handle financial matters on your behalf by executing a document for a power of attorney for finances. The agent, among other things, could be given power to pay your bills, make bank deposits, monitor your investments, and accept benefits from the government or your insurance.
The financial power of attorney document may be “durable” or it may be “springing.” A durable power of attorney will take effect immediately after being signed, whereas a springing power of attorney will take effect upon a determination of incapacity. Make sure you understand the differences between these two options and talk to an estate planning lawyer if you do not.
6. Digital Assets and Accounts. You should also make sure that you have accounted for your digital assets. Organize your accounts and documents so that they're easy to find and access. B
ack up your computer and put your most important files, including a list of account usernames and passwords, in a safe and secure place and let a trusted person or two know its location.
Taking the few steps mentioned above can ensure that your estate is in order before you take your trip. It is also a good idea to carry copies of your Georgia Advance Healthcare Directive with you while traveling. Just as you anticipate unexpected weather or changes in plans on your vacation, you should also plan ahead to make sure that your intentions are clear and will be considered if something happens to you while you’re away.
If you’re planning a trip in the upcoming months and want to make sure that your estate planning documents are in order, contact me. I look forward to helping you create or update a will, trust, or other estate planning document.