Yep, it’s that time of year again . . . traveling season. Memorial Day weekend is coming up, the kids will soon be out of school, and the summer travel season will be in full force. No matter how well we plan, we always seem to forget something before leaving on vacation – or at least think we forgot something. What about you? Have you every worried that you left the stove on, forgot to put the garage door down (I always forget that one!), or didn’t lock the door to the house? I’m sure you have. Those are some of the common worries. So let me ask, have you ever worried about what would happen to your children if something happened to you?
Most parents haven’t thought about this, or at least never did anything to take care of it. Did you know that only about 1/3 of parents have named guardians for their children . . . ONLY 1/3?! And yet we consider them to be the most precious gift and most important part of our lives (and they are!). I encourage you to take it upon yourself to put an estate plan in place to make sure your kids are cared for by who YOU want in the way YOU want . . . BEFORE you go on vacation.
I frequently get calls to the office from parents who realize at the last minute that they need a plan in place – sometimes literally a day or two before leaving! Sadly, it’s often too late to put something in place that is even somewhat thought-out before they leave. It may go without saying – procrastination is the number one reason I see for families not having the needed legal documentation in place. I can’t count how many times I’ve counseled caring parents through making these important decisions, and hear “yeah, we’ve been thinking about it for years, but have always put off the step of doing something about it.”
Here are three critically important items to have in place before vacation:
- Name guardians for your children and make sure it is legally documented – don’t let the court system decide who will care for your children. Make sure you plan for the long-term AND the short-term.
- Have a power of attorney for health care and patient advocate designation in place so your family isn’t caught in a bitter conflict over your medical care
- Have your finances in order so they aren’t lost to taxes or a lengthy court process
Make sure to take these important steps before YOU go on vacation. And make sure to work with an attorney that specializes/focuses on estate planning for families. If you have questions – ask! Give me a call, email me, or comment on this post so you can have your questions answered and have some added peace of mind before your next trip.