Vacation is a great time to kick back and relax, and we don’t want to rain on your parade. Unfortunately, that’s just what this article might do. Vacation and summer can be risky, and there are statistics to prove that statement. While you should definitely still go, we suggest updating and reviewing your estate plan before you leave. Make sure everything is in order, just to be safe.
Is Vacation Dangerous?
Millions and millions of people go on vacation every year with no issues. That said, there are some interesting travel statistics to note. As it turns out, your vacation itself might not be too treacherous, as Be Travel Wise noted that between 74% and 80% of deaths overseas are caused by natural ailments like heart problems. 18% to 24% are caused by accidents, while only 2% are from infectious disease, a la Cabin Fever (just kidding!).
The holidays themselves can be a little unpredictable. AAA says that over 33% of Americans travel during the holidays, which leads to a 34% increase in car accidents. Lastly, Benenden lists slip and falls, sunburn and heatstroke, food poisoning, and road accidents as five of the “most common types of accidents” while vacationing.
Bottom line, vacation can come with its own perils, and you need to face this risk not by avoiding vacation, but by updating your safeguards.
What to Review
Generally, the rule of thumb is that you should review and update your estate plan every three to five years. You should also take a look at it if you are experiencing a major life change, such as a birth, death, marriage, or illness/incapacitation. Other than that, reviewing it before you go on vacation also isn’t a bad idea. Though this might not qualify as a “life change,” it does qualify as a period of heightened risk. Below are some of the documents you should make sure to review:
- Power of Attorney. These documents appoint a trusted individual to manage your financial and/or healthcare affairs in the event that you are too sick or injured to do so. You can rest easy knowing that someone you trust is making decisions on your behalf when you are unable to.
- Healthcare Directive. This very personal document lays out your wishes to doctors and nurses for end-of-life care and other medical procedures. It makes sure your “DNR” and other orders are honored, even when you cannot communicate them.
- Guardianship Papers. If you have minor children, these papers appoint a legal guardian to your kids if something happens to you and your spouse while on vacation. Make sure to discussed with your proposed guardian before putting them down on paper.
- Everything Else. Though the three documents above are the most imperative in this context, it wouldn’t hurt to glance over everything else (trusts, last will and testament, etc.) to ensure that those papers are in order, too.
What If I Don’t Have an Estate Plan?
If you don’t have an estate plan, there is no time like the present. These plans are vital to ensuring that your end-of-life care and assets are taken care of. Talk to an estate planning attorney today to learn how to start the process.
Though this article might seem like a bit of a bummer, estate planning is about accepting risks and facing them head-on. We’re sure you will have a great time on vacation, but it never hurts to pick up the phone and contact your estate planning attorney, just to be safe.