With the school year coming to a close, many of us (including the parents at Schooley Law Firm) are planning to take family vacations over the next several months. We thought it would be a good time to gather our thoughts about important planning (legal and otherwise) to get ready for your summer vacation.
What to take with you:
- It’s a good idea to take a copy of your advance medical directive or health care power of attorney on your trip. Although local laws vary with regard to these documents, having a copy with you will help doctors or paramedics reach your health care agents in an emergency. Many cell phones also have an option to add emergency contacts and other information, such as allergies and blood type, which can be accessed by EMTs even if the phone is locked. (On our iPhones, it’s under the “Health” app.) Some people also like to carry a list of important contacts in their wallet, which is a great option – just be careful how much personal information is listed in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
- Traveling outside the United States? Email yourself photographs of your family’s passports. If bags containing your identification are lost or stolen, taking this step will help you quickly establish your identity at the embassy.
- If you are divorced and have minor children from your previous marriage, it’s a good idea to bring a copy of your ex-spouse’s written consent for you to take your children out of the state or country if your court order requires this. If you have questions about what the letter should say or whether your divorce terms restrict international travel, give us a call.
What to leave behind:
- Make sure someone who is staying behind knows where your estate planning documents are located and how to access them. This is a good idea whether you are out of town or not. If an emergency happens while you are away, however, your agent under your power of attorney may need access to the instrument in order to resolve the problem. Likewise, if you pass away unexpectedly while on vacation, your executor and/or successor trustee under your revocable trust will need access to your documents in order to make plans and arrangements.
- Likewise, don’t forget to leave someone with a copy of your itinerary, and make sure that itinerary contains sufficient detail. Someone needs to know when you are leaving and returning (with flight details, if applicable), where you will be staying, and how to reach you while you are gone. Don’t assume you will be reachable on your cell phone – in remote locations (e.g. Yellowstone), cell service is notoriously spotty, and in other countries your phone may not work at all (or will cost you a small fortune to use). If you plan on staying in touch, check with your cell phone provider before you leave to find out the terms of international use. Alternatively, if you have an “unlocked” phone, buy a new sim card at a major airport abroad for minutes and texting in that region – then text your family your international number. “WhatsApp” is another great app to use to stay in touch when you have internet or cell service.
A few more things to think about:
- Consider reviewing your estate plan before traveling to make sure it still makes sense. We have answered more than one panicked phone call from would-be travelers who have realized changes need to be made at the last minute (commonly, changing the guardian of minor children). If you do find yourself in this situation, feel free to give us a call and we will work with you to get things turned around as quickly as possible.
- Don’t forget to both notify and check with your credit card company and/or bank to find out whether restrictions apply to using your credit or debit cards while traveling. It really sours a vacation when your card is declined at the swim-up pool bar.
- If you’re in the middle of estate planning, premarital planning, or a divorce and are embarking on a long trip, drop your attorneys a line. For one thing, we love hearing our clients’ tales of exploration! But we also get worried if we don’t hear back from you for awhile.
From all of us at Schooley Law Firm: have a wonderful summer and enjoy your travels! If you have questions about travel planning or updating your documents, call us now to get it out of the way instead of waiting until you get back from vacation. It’s one less worry to come between you and your relaxation time!