Travel FAQs

When entrusting your minor child to someone you trust, it is important that they have the necessary authority to care for your child in your absence, including making medical decisions and signing school forms. Simply choosing a person to watch over your child does not automatically grant them the authority to do so. Most states offer a legal document, known by different names, that allows you to name a temporary guardian for your child. This document shows that you have given them the authority to make decisions and care for your child. It is crucial to note that this document is only valid for a specific period of time, after which you may need to sign a new one. However, delegating this responsibility does not mean that you lose your own rights as a parent—the person you choose is a backup.

Additionally, if you are planning to travel, especially without your child, it is important to have updated estate planning documents in place. A last will and testament is crucial for naming a guardian for your child in the event of your death when the other legal parent is unable to care for the child. In some states, you can name a guardian for your child in a separate document referenced in your will, making it easier to update if needed. This document can inform a court of your chosen guardian if you are alive but unable to care for your child and the other legal parent is also unable to do so.

Before embarking on your trip, it is important to not only take care of the usual tasks such as stopping mail delivery and adjusting your home’s thermostat, but also to consider the following:

  • Schedule a meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney to create or update your estate plan
  • Appoint someone to handle your financial matters while you are traveling
  • Research how to designate a medical decision-maker in the country you will be visiting for an extended period
  • Check with your health insurance company to confirm coverage while abroad
  • Determine if travel insurance is needed for your trip
  • Review and ensure beneficiaries are correctly named on life insurance policies, and that risky activities during your trip will not void coverage
  • Apply for or renew your passport and your child’s passport
  • Prepare the necessary documents to authorize someone to make decisions for your child in your absence.

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