Going on vacation? Review estate plans before departure!

Before you leave for a vacation, take the time to review and update your estate plan’s beneficiary designations, incapacity documents and insurance coverage.

Now that the weather has turned warm, many are eagerly planning their summer vacations. Few people include "review estate plans" on their "to do" list prior to departing, but it should be an important part of each person's pre-travel routine because of the possibility of death, illness or accident while travelling. You should focus on a few key areas of your estate plan when reviewing it before travel.

Beneficiary designations

One of the most important things to look at when reviewing your estate plan is your beneficiary designations, both in your will and on non-probate assets such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Major life changes such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or death of a loved one can make your initial beneficiary designations outdated. It is crucial that you review all of your beneficiary designations, not just the heirs you name in your will. Your will does not control non-probate assets; even if you indicate in your will that you want these assets to go to a certain person, the person named as the beneficiary on the non-probate asset will receive the asset.

Incapacity documents

If your estate plan does not already include incapacity documents, you should make sure to draft a health care power of attorney, which gives another person the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf when you cannot make them yourself. A living will expresses your wishes regarding what, if any, measures you wish doctors to take to extend your life such as ventilators, resuscitation or feeding tubes. This information can now be included in your power of attorney for health care in Illinois.

Insurance coverage

Prior to taking off for a vacation is a good time to review your insurance coverage to make sure that it is still adequate for you and your family's needs. If you have minor children named as beneficiaries of your life insurance policy, you may want to consider setting up a trust to hold the proceeds.

Organization of documents

After you have reviewed and updated your estate planning documents, you should make sure that they are organized and accessible so that others do not need to hunt for them should they need the documents. You should also include a list of your assets, passwords for various accounts and contact information of anyone who manages investment accounts on your behalf in order to make it easier for your family to manage your affairs if they need to.

If you have questions about updating your estate plan prior to travelling, talk to an attorney who can help you make sure that your estate plan is complete and current. Then you can enjoy your vacation with confidence knowing that your affairs are in order.

Keywords: estate planning; will; trust; power of attorney

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