There’s nothing more thrilling than a great international vacation! As you make your checklist of things to do before you travel, don’t forget to put “Update estate plan” on the to-do list. 

When you’re about to travel internationally, you want to make sure that you update not just your passport, but your estate plan as well. Every three to five years, you should review your documents. There might be papers in your estate plan that you drafted a decade ago; it would definitely be a good idea to look over those, as it’s very likely something in your life has changed in the past ten years. 

Why should I update my estate plan? 

International travel in particular Is a significant catalyst for updating your estate plan because it has a lot of unknown variables. You’re overseas, and if something happens, the situation will not be handled in the same way it is here; your doctors aren’t overseas, and your entire family and lawyer probably aren’t traveling with you. Updating your estate plan is important in case something happens. If you become sick, incapacitated, or even pass away while on the other side of the world, documents in your estate plan will become tools to guide others on how to manage the situation and get your affairs in order.

Documents to Review 

Not only should you review these documents, you should also update them if necessary. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and you might find that there are more things you need in your plan to ensure your total preparedness for travel. 

That said, here are the major ones to be on the lookout for: 

  • Power of attorney. A power of attorney is a trusted individual that you select to make healthcare and/or financial decisions for you in the event that you become too sick or incapacitated to do so. While you may have chosen your power of attorney with domestic ailments in mind, you should also add a stipulation for that person (or perhaps someone else) to be in charge of your healthcare and finances should you be incapacitated while overseas.
  • Living will. Your living will is a healthcare directive that tells doctors and hospitals what to do with you when you are receiving treatment yet are unable to communicate your health wishes. This state usually happens when you’re too sick to tell the doctors what you want. Update your living will to include a provision that makes similar arrangements for when you’re hospitalized overseas, as well as arrangements to transfer you to your preferred hospital if possible.
  • Guardianship. Worst case scenario, you pass away while overseas. If you have young children, you don’t want there to be a delay in finding the proper guardian for them. Choose your minor children’s guardians beforehand. That way, if something happens, they’ll be in the best hands possible.

Have fun on your trip! You’ll have greater peace of mind while traveling just knowing that, in the event something happens, you’ll be in good hands. Reviewing and updating your estate plan is not a cumbersome process at all, and it will be time well spent.