Estate Planning for International Travelers

Estate Planning for International Travelers

Although estate planning may be the last thing on your mind when preparing for an international vacation, it is an important consideration. We encourage you to think about these 2 questions:

Question #1: What should I do if I am going to leave my minor child in the United States while I vacation abroad?

When leaving your minor child with a trusted person, the person must have the authority to fully care for your child while you are away. This includes seeking medical treatment, signing school permission slips, etc. Choosing a person to watch over your child does not automatically give that person the requisite authority to carry out their duties.

Most states have a legal document that you can complete to name someone as a temporary guardian of your minor child. It is important to remember that this document is only effective for a specific period of time, so you may need to sign a new document before the current document expires. And although this document allows you to delegate the responsibility to care for your child, it does not mean that you are no longer able to care for your child — the person you choose is a backup.

If you are going to be traveling, especially without your minor child, it is essential that you have estate planning documents and that they are up to date. A last will and testament is an important component of a comprehensive estate plan because this document can be used to nominate a guardian for your minor child at your death if the other legal parent is unable to care for the child.

Question #2: What items might I have missed that I should add to my to-do list in preparation for my trip?

In addition to the typical tasks you may do before your trip such as stopping the mail delivery and adjusting your home’s thermostat, you should take care of the following:

  • Meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to create an estate plan or update an existing plan
  • Legally appoint someone to handle your financial matters while you are away
  • Research how to name a medical decision maker in the country you will be visiting
  • Contact your health insurance company to see if they will cover you while you are traveling in another country
  • Research and decide whether travel insurance is necessary or advisable for your trip
  • Review any existing life insurance policies to make sure that the beneficiaries are properly named and that the activities you take part in during your trip (i.e., bungee jumping, rock climbing) will not void coverage
  • Apply for or renew your and your child’s passport
  • Have the proper documentation prepared to legally give someone the ability to make decisions for your child while you are away

Are you planning an international excursion and would like some advice on these matters? I am here to help! You can reach me at (480) 719-7333.