Advance directives for vacation planning
With the unusually chilly May weather we’ve been having lately, I can hardly believe it – but summer is almost here! For many of us, that means we’re going to be scrambling to plan our summer travels for family reunions and vacations. Some of you are super-on-the-ball and you finished plans weeks ago…what’s your secret? No matter where you are on the travel planning spectrum, be sure to consider that along with coordinating flights, roadtrips, itineraries and hotel reservations, pre-travel preparations deserve an examination of some of your key legal documents such as advance directives. Here are some are some recommendations from the Weeks Law Firm to help ensure you’re prepared for the unexpected when you’re away from home.
Legal documents and advance directives to get in place before your trip
- Your Will: If you don’t have one, then you should start there. Assuming you have one, your original signed Will should be safely stored and accessible by a trusted friend or relative. It should also be current. Current doesn’t just refer to a date (although it shouldn’t be more than 5 years old); current means that it is tailored to your current circumstances. A Will that is 2 years old is no longer current if, for example, you’ve since been divorced. Other reasons might include moving to another state, getting married or remarried, having or adopting a child, getting laid off, the death of a loved one, coming into a substantial amount of money or inheriting a large asset, deciding to retire, getting a serious medical diagnosis, etc. If you’ve had one of these kinds of life changes, meet with your attorney to review your Will. Depending on your circumstances, you may require no changes, a few small changes, or your plan may require a complete overhaul.
- Your Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will or Advanced Medical Directive, and HIPAA: Again, this should be current and should name persons still living and able-minded. If you haven’t already, be sure to let your named agents know they have been chosen to make medical decisions for you and provide them with a copy of the three documents. This is also a great time to talk about your wishes – even if you already have, a refresher conversation is a good idea. All of this makes things much easier for the people you’ve entrusted with your medical care, and also provides greater assurance for yourself that your wishes regarding your care will be carried out.
- Your Durable Power of Attorney: As before, this should be current and name competent individuals. Ideally, it will also name individuals who live in or near your city of residence. This document could become very important if you are delayed getting home for any reason – illness/accident, travel complications, legal troubles, etc. Whether out of the city, state or country, you could find yourself in a situation where you are unable to take care of your financial responsibilities and need your agent to be able to act on your behalf. Make sure your agent has a copy of the Durable Power of Attorney and have a talk about key information that will help “keep the lights on” and pay the bills if you can’t. A word of caution: the Durable Power of Attorney, once signed, is effective immediately. In other words, your agent should be someone you trust implicitly; it is not a document to be taken lightly.
- Your Beneficiary Designations: If you have any retirement accounts or insurance policies with beneficiary designations, check to make sure those reflect your current circumstances and desires. Any type of asset with a beneficiary designation is not a part of your probate estate and your Will does not and cannot change a beneficiary designation.
- Powers of Attorney for Adult Aged Children: You may be about to vacation with a son or daughter who is newly 18, or maybe not so young, but still in school and dependent on you. Whether traveling together or not, it’s a good idea to have them get their own documents – specifically the Medical and Durable Powers of Attorney and HIPAA Release. Parents have been blocked access to medical information about their child after an accident/illness rendered their son or daughter unconscious and in the hospital. Your child will need you to be their voice if they have a medical emergency, and these documents ensure you will have that.
Whatever your travel plans this summer, we wish you safe and happy ones. The Weeks Law Firm is here to help you with any of your estate planning needs. Call today at 214-269-4290 to schedule a consultation at our Plano office, conveniently located off the Dallas North Tollway at 5600 Tennyson Parkway, Suite 345. We look forward to serving you!
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