Travel Safely with an Estate Plan in Place

Putting your affairs in order with an estate plan will make for a smoother transition to the loved ones you leave behind.  This is especially important if you plan to travel. Before you hit the road or jet set away this summer, make sure you’ve got these essential documents in order.  The preferred ending to your trip is a return home with some new wonderful memories.  However anything can happen while traveling, and being prepared will prevent your family from facing additional stress winding up your estate in the event of a tragedy.

An estate plan should include at least these four key documents:  will, medical power of attorney, durable (financial) power of attorney and a living will.  However, there are many other documents that may address the specific needs of your situation.

Must Haves

Will

A properly executed Last Will and Testament assures that your property passes to the loved ones that you choose. The preparation of a will can be accomplished simply by writing it in your own handwriting and signing it, but it is safer to use an attorney to draft your will and supervise its execution.

Durable (Financial) and Medical Power of Attorney

Powers of attorney allow you to name who should handle your finances and make medical decisions if you are unable. Furthermore, there are separate documents for financial and medical decisions so that you can easily name different people for these tasks if you wish.

Directive to Physicians (Living Will)

Directive to Physicians is the Texas document known as a living will. The purpose of a living will is to provide direction to medical professionals and loved ones on the type of care you wish at the end of your life. A list of specific procedures that should or should not be performed can be included. A person can be named to make decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Documents to Address Specific Needs

Declaration of Guardian in Advance of Need (Adult Guardianship)

This document allows you to specify who should be appointed your guardian if you become disabled. The Texas Estates Code provides that any person may in writing identify people who should or should not be allowed to serve as guardians of the person or estate.  The designated person must still comply with the statutory requirements should they be called upon to be the guardian.

Appointment of Guardian (Child’s Guardianship)

Guardianship takes care-giving to a new level, and it provides protection for the well-being and assets of a loved one who is under the age of 18. If not designated in advance of the need, a court will appoint someone to have legal responsibility over the care and management of a person or the estate of a child. Such a designation may include finances, food, clothing and shelter.

Organ Donation

Organ donation is another decision that should be reflected in advance directives. Putting organ donation wishes in a will does not suffice, as the will is often not found nor read until several days after the passing, and organ donations must be made immediately after death.

Disposition of Remains

This is a relatively straightforward document that allows you to specify who should be responsible for making decisions regarding your body and funeral services after you have passed.

Trusts

trust is a separate legal entity created for a defined purpose.  In estate planning that purpose is often to reduce a taxable estate or to care for loved ones who are unable to manage their finances.  Trusts can be a great tool to accomplish certain goals.

Plan Ahead

Review and utilize this checklist of estate planning documents before you travel to ensure everything is in order. This gives you and your loved ones’ peace of mind allowing you to enjoy your trip.

 

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Law Offices of Debbie J. Cunningham

Debbie Cunningham is an Irving attorney providing affordable estate planning to the Dallas/ Fort-Worth areas. She understands the steps you should take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Debbie is family-focused and wants to ensure her clients are fully informed on the options that are available for their families. Debbie’s own blended family has given her valuable insights into the complexities of family dynamics.

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