Before you leave for an international trip, talk to an estate planning lawyer first. Not only should you update your estate plan before travelling, but also you may want to sign additional documents to take with you. When travel takes you far from home, be prepared.
Update Your Estate Plan Before Travelling Internationally
If you have not reviewed your estate plan in a while, take a look at it before you leave on your trip. You may notice that information is very out of date or that your wishes have changed. Make an appointment to talk with your estate planning attorney and make the necessary updates to your plan.
If you do not have an estate plan or only have a will, now is a great time to make your plan. You never know if an emergency will come up when you travel internationally. There could be limited Internet access, medical personnel may not understand you or know how to contact your relatives, or you may be incapacitated and far from home. Estate planning provides peace of mind that your wishes are written down. In addition, you can take a few more steps to smooth out issues when abroad.
Health Care Directive and Emergency Contacts
While travelling, you could have a medical emergency and be unable to communicate your wishes to doctors. An advance health care directive or medical power of attorney allows someone else to make medical decisions for you when you cannot. You can spell out exactly which decisions the person can make and what kinds of treatment you want in particular situations.
It is a good idea to bring a paper copy of your health care directive or power of attorney along with you and keep it with other important papers. Also, if you are travelling with the person who has your power of attorney, you may want to execute a separate temporary power of attorney allowing someone who is not on the trip to make decisions.
In addition, make a list of emergency contacts such as your relatives back home, your doctor, and even your lawyer. You may want to include your lawyer in case you encounter a legal problem or if someone needs to know the contents of your will or power of attorney. Also include a list of any allergies or health conditions. Put all this information in an easy-to-find place, such as near your passport.
Children and International Travel
Finally, take some additional steps if you are travelling with children or leaving children at home. If you are travelling with children, it is a good idea to bring along a signed and notarized document indicating their relationship to you and that you have permission to take them on the trip. This is especially true if you are not related to the children, you have a different last name, or you do not resemble the children. If you are leaving children at home, entrust someone to care for them in your absence, whether informally or by executing a legal document.
Planning to travel internationally? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.