FAQ: Estate Planning for International Travelers
Traveling the world is an exhilarating adventure! Planning for a big trip across the globe is fun and exciting, and thinking about estate planning while plotting the course of your big adventure can be decidedly less exciting. Although estate planning isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when traveling internationally, it is important to spend some time reviewing your current estate plan, or creating one if you haven’t already. Preparing your plan before your trip can give you (and your family) peace of mind so that you can enjoy the trip of your dreams. Read some of the most frequently asked questions about estate planning below. Then, give Wakefield Law a call. We’ll walk you through your options, so you can be prepared for anything that comes your way.
Q. What Paperwork Should I Prepare Before Traveling?
A common misconception about estate planning is that it’s all about reducing your tax burden. While lowering the tax burden on your estate can be a goal of careful estate planning, the truth is that preparing your estate is really about planning for the future. There are a number of estate planning options that are important to consider, depending on your financial and personal goals.
If you’ll be traveling internationally in the near future, consider the following estate planning options:
● Creating a durable power of attorney: durable powers of attorney authorize a trusted individual to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
● Establishing guardianship of your children (and pets!): if your trip is extended due to a medical emergency, make sure you’ve established who will take care of the kids (and your pets) while you’re away. Formally establishing guardianship in a legal document makes sure that your children are cared for by someone you trust.
● Creating an advance health care directive: similar to a durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney allows an authorized person to make medical decisions for you and gives your instructions regarding medical treatment.
● Creating a will: regardless of your financial situation, it’s important to have a will. Your will reflects your wishes regarding your assets should you pass away. Drafting a will or reviewing your existing will before you travel means you travel without worry.
Traveling internationally, like estate planning, is all about logistics. In addition to your estate planning tools, there is other paperwork you should make sure you have in order before traveling internationally. To be fully prepared, consider carrying the following with you on your trip:
● Updated vaccines record
● Copy of your marriage license
● A secondary photo ID in addition to your passport
● Proof of international health insurance
● Child travel consent (if you are traveling with your child and share joint custody with their other parent)
● Your child’s birth certificate (if traveling with your child)
That may seem like a lot of paperwork to prepare before leaving on vacation! However, making sure you have the necessary paperwork you may need can ensure your trip goes smoothly.
Q. Why Should I Add Estate Planning to the Long List of Things I Have to Do Before My Trip?
Managing the logistics of an international trip can be time-consuming but is essential to having an enjoyable trip. And, once you’ve started your estate plan and build a relationship with an attorney you trust, keeping your plan up to date before each big trip won’t take long at all. Eventually, you will just come to consider updating your estate a vital step to preparing for your trip.
The main reason to prepare your estate before travel is to make sure you and your family are prepared for the remote possibility of accident, injury, or death overseas. Dealing with the headache of who pays for medical bills or who has guardianship of your kids can be extremely difficult to do while you’re in a foreign country. Instead of waiting for something to happen, plan now.
Q. What Happens if I Have an Accident While I’m Out of the Country?
Accidents happen at home and abroad. Whether you’re taking the international adventure of a lifetime, or plan a more leisurely trip, you never know when you might get hurt or fall ill. Before traveling, review your medical insurance policy to make sure you have international coverage. Without proper international health insurance, you could face high medical bills if you have an accident or get sick overseas.
In addition to squaring away your health insurance, consider creating an advance health care directive. As noted above, an advance health care directive is a document that designates someone you trust to make your medical decisions for you. If, for example, you fall off the gondola in Venice or have a sailing accident in the Caribbean, your designated decision-maker can guide your health care, so you can recover. Similarly, creating a durable power of attorney gives your trusted designee the authority to pay your bills while you’re recovering from an illness or accident. By planning your estate before your trip, you can travel without worrying about your care or your loved ones if something happens to you.
Q. Isn’t Estate Planning Only Important for Wealthy People?
Far too many people go through life mistakenly thinking they don’t have enough money to plan their estate. The truth is, everyone should take time for estate planning regardless of the state of their assets. There is no financial threshold for preparing for your future. Again, estate planning is about preparing for what you want to happen in the future. Whether you’re interested in designating how your assets will be divided in your will or are considering how a trust could ease your tax burden in the future, take the time to think through your options now rather than later.
Q. Can’t I Just Worry About This After My Vacation?
It is very tempting to put off estate planning until next year or after the birth or your next child or after your vacation. The reality is, none of us know what the future holds. All we can do is prepare for the possibilities. So, instead of waiting to plan your estate after you get back from vacation, call Wakefield Law at (703) 771-9740 to schedule your free consultation. We’ll walk you through your options and make recommendations based on your needs and goals. Our attorneys will answer any questions you may have about wills, trusts, and other options. We will take care of the paperwork so that you that can enjoy a worry-free vacation.