Almost nothing prompts the urgency a parent may feel to get an estate plan in place than the upcoming vacation without the children. Vacations are a great way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And Americans spend more time planning their vacation each year than planning their estate.
Before you head to the beach or the mountains, make sure your vacation will be as worry-free as possible by checking off a few estate planning items first.
- Give your children’s caretaker short-term guardianship to make sure they can make decisions for your kids in case of an emergency.
- Decide who should be your children’s long-term guardian if something happens, and sign the long-term guardianship document to make sure you know what will happen to your kids if something happens to you.
- Create or update your Medical Durable Power of Attorney to give a trusted person the tools to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Your spouse is not automatically entitled to do this (except in emergency situations). Without this document, your spouse or agent has to go to the probate court.
- Sign or update a Living Will to specify what happens if you are on life support.
- Double-check or create your General Durable Power of Attorney to make sure your spouse, partner, or trusted friend can handle your assets if you become incapacitated. As with medical decisions, your spouse is not automatically able to handle assets you own in your own name, such as a retirement account.
- Review and update your Last Will and Testament to ensure any financial or life changes are accounted for, or if your preferences about who gets what have changed since you last signed your last will.
- Create or update a Revocable Living Trust to make sure your family and loved ones avoid the hassle and expense of probate, and to ensure your wishes are carried out exactly as you intend without the oversight of the probate court.
- Compile an updated list of assets and debts, including real estate, bank account, investment accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and monthly bills. And don’t forget a full list of usernames and passwords to your online accounts.
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