As the country reopens, more people are making travel and vacation plans. But catastrophe may also accompany travelers. Taking these estate planning steps before you travel can help protect you and your family.
Making a will is one of the most important things you can do even if you do not travel or have substantial assets.
State law dictates how your assets are distributed if you die without a will. But distribution under Nevada’s intestacy laws may not comply with your wishes and lead to disinheriting stepchildren.
Wills are also the major way to address the important decisions of selecting your children’s guardian. Writing a will allows you to consider this matter and discuss your expectations with potential guardians. Otherwise, this decision may be left to a court.
IRAs, 401(k) plans, life insurance and similar assets are not governed by your will. These plans allow you to select a beneficiary who will receive these assets when you die regardless of what is contained in your will.
Beneficiary selection, however, is usually a fast decision made when starting a job or obtaining an insurance policy. These decisions are often forgotten.
It is important to periodically review and update beneficiary selections to assure they kept up with important life events such as divorce, new family members, children growing up or the death of beneficiaries. Otherwise, important assets may unintentionally go to beneficiaries such as a former spouse.
At home or on a trip, you may be incapacitated by an illness or accident and unable to make decisions about your healthcare. An advanced healthcare directive allows you to designate the type of health care you want.
A healthcare power of attorney authorizes another person to make decisions on your behalf based upon your healthcare directive.
Making these plans helps your family when decisions must be made quickly. It also allows you to dictate that your wishes will be carried out and who can act on your behalf.
Durable power of attorney
Through a durable power of attorney, you authorize an agent to make decisions on your behalf concerning your finances, taxes, and business. An agent can also act on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
Before you leave, be sure that your estate documents and other important legal documents are organized and kept in a secure place. Keep other important information such as passwords, account listings and contact information for your accountants and attorneys with those documents. Tell your executor or a family member where this information is kept and how to access it.
Attorneys can assist you with developing a plan that meets your needs. They can also prepare necessary documents.