31 Aug

Family vacations are perfect for creating lifelong memories with your kids. Trips to the beach, the mountains, or visiting family and friends are highlights to cherish for years to come. But sometimes it's just as nice to getaway for some alone time!

For an adults-only trip, you will certainly make sure that childcare is in place while you are away. But what would happen if your plane gets delayed? Or, worse yet, you didn’t come home from your trip at all? Before hopping on a plane for the first time without your kids, it’s imperative to have an estate plan that maps out the future for your children.

In case of an Emergency

If you had a medical emergency while you were away, it's critical that your loved ones are able to step in to help you. Without the ability to access information about your health care status or to assist you with any financial transactions, these situations can become problematic very quickly. Preparing for a medical emergency as part of your estate plan can help to solve these issues before they become overwhelming.

Creating a Health Care Proxy ensures that your spouse, family or friends can make any medical decisions for you if you were unconscious and unable to make them for yourself. Along with the Health Care Proxy, your HIPAA Waiver allows doctors and medical professionals to share your otherwise confidential medical information with your health care agent so that your family can learn more about your medial status and coordinate a plan to get you home safely.

A Durable Power of Attorney gives your loved ones the ability to make legal and financial decisions for you. For example, if your medical care cost a certain amount of money, your agent could access your bank account to transfer funds if necessary. All of these pieces help to ensure your safety and wellbeing, even if you're far away.

Appointing Guardians and Trustees

Just like buying insurance for your all-inclusive resort in case you come down with the flu, it’s critical to prepare for family emergencies, too. One of the most important pieces of your estate plan is guardianship. Identifying and documenting short-term guardians is important in case you get stuck somewhere. Your children will need someone with the legal authority to take care of them for longer than anticipated. It is always a good idea to leave both your short-term guardianship documentation and your travel plan itinerary with your children’s caregivers so you are reachable if they have any emergency.

It is also important to name long-term guardians to ensure that the people you want will step in your shoes to raise your children. While this can seem scary (especially when you’re supposed to be having fun on your vacation!), parents should take steps to ensure that they’re properly prepared for the worst-case scenario. 

Estate planning also involves deciding how your assets – your money, your property, and any other physical “stuff” – will be managed after your death. This can get complicated with minor children who are not legally old enough to take title to any property on their own. Creating an estate plan allows you to designate the person or people responsible for managing your assets on behalf of your children, known as "Trustees". One common way of lessening the administrative burden on your family is by creating revocable trusts as part of your estate plan to preserve assets, avoid the probate process, and clearly outline the responsibilities of the Trustees.

Location, Location, Location

If you’ve done the hard work of creating your estate plan, make sure your family knows where you keep it in case of an emergency. We recommend keeping your original estate planning documents in a safe place in your home that is away from kids, pets, floods, and fires. If you choose to store your documents in a safe, be sure to let others know how to access the contents. Do not keep your original estate planning documents in a safe deposit box, as your fiduciaries will need the original documentation in order to access the contents. You may keep copies there if you wish. 

If you are planning to travel without your kids this season or later in the year, contact Mulhall Withrow, PLLC to set up an estate plan or review the one you have created in the past to ensure that it is updated to reflect the changes in your life.  Parenting is hard and stressful, so make sure to have fun while you are away!