Summer’s here! School’s out! The next logical step is – family vacation! But not so fast. Before you hit the road this summer, make all those safety checks, including whether your estate plan needs a tune-up.
No one wants to start their vacation planning thinking about the bad things that might happen that would require an estate plan, but a brief reality check could make a lot of difference to your loved ones if the unthinkable should happen.
First, if you don’t have any form of estate plan, at least do a simple will before you go. That way, if something should happen to you, you at least have a say in what happens to your assets. If you are married or have a partner or significant other, make sure that their will is done as well and that the two do not conflict with each other.
If you do already have estate planning documents such as a will or trust, check to make sure that everything is up to date. And do the same with anything that names someone as a beneficiary such as an insurance policy – is the person named still alive and still the person you want to get the proceeds? Will he or she be able to manage the assets?
Make sure that your minor children are accounted for. If you haven’t chosen a guardian for them, make sure that you do. Otherwise, it will be up to a court to appoint the person who will make decisions for your minor child until he or she becomes an adult. But, you argue, the other parent can care for the minor child. If you are all on vacation together, what happens if both parents die or become incapacitated in the same accident?
Finally, before you go, make sure that all of the documents in your estate plan are organized and that someone knows where they are. Make copies and take them with you just in case. Don’t spoil your vacation worrying over less-than-pleasant topics, but do be able to enjoy it with some peace-of-mind knowing that your family will be cared for if the worst should happen.