Any time you travel, having an estate plan is not just a good idea, it’s a necessity. And that necessity is especially true when travelling for Thanksgiving.
This year AAA forecasts that that 54.3 Million Americans will travel more than 50 miles to get to their Thanksgiving Dinner. Whether that’s by car, airplane, boat or train, there will be a lot of people moving large distances, many of whom will be under the influence. In fact, while New Year Eve has the reputation, Thanksgiving has – by a landslide – the largest number of drunk driving fatalities.
To help keep you safe as possible, here’s a list of safety tips provided by the Red Cross.
Whether you are going to Pittsfield or Pittsburg, Agawam or Atlanta, or Sandwich or Seattle, the following are some documents that you should have in place to help your family out:
Last Will and Testament: Most people think, “well, if something happens to me, the kids know to just split everything equally.” If you really want everything “split equally” why not just put it in writing? Spell out how it will be divided equally, and by whom. Unfortunately, death never is seamless and children disagree about how things are divided. Items were “promised” to multiple beneficiaries. A simple will can save your beneficiaries months in litigation simply by designating a person to be able to handle your estate and allow them to sell your real estate without a court order.
A Will is additionally important if you have children because it designates a beneficiary for your children.
Durable Power of Attorney: A Durable Power of Attorney authorizes another individual (Attorney-in-fact) to legally act on your behalf while you are still alive. Your attorney-in-fact can engage in court proceedings, access your bank accounts, sell real estate, and pick up your prescriptions. This is a great document to have available if you need someone to tend to a matter that you are unable to take care on your own. It may be that you’re simply out of country, or it may be more complicated, like you are incapacitated indefinitely. Someone will need to attend to your affairs and business while you are unable to do so for yourself.
Health Care Directive: Similar to the Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Directive authorizes a “Health Care Proxy” to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions on your own. Usually you’re unable to make health care decisions on your own if you are in a coma, or are unable to communicate on your own behalf. Often the Health Care Directive includes directions regarding what to do if you are unable to recover from a coma. It gives your Proxy an opportunity to consult with your health care providers and get realistic expectations regarding your health and make informed decisions.
HIPPA Authorization: Separate from the Health Care Directive, a HIPPA Authorization is necessary so that your medical history can be accessed.
Electronic Data Authorization: More and more property is owned digitally. Whether it is an email account, social media, movies that you’ve purchased, or thousands of songs that you’ve accumulated, this document authorizes your designee to act on your behalf, and if you elect, direct the companies to give access to your property to your designated individual. People could have magazine and newspaper subscriptions that will last for year or complex genealogical information and photos stored on sites. One extremely affluent video gamer died with millions of dollars worth of games and property on an online community. That property can be accumulated and sold. However, perhaps most concerning is having control over Facebook and other social media accounts, to make certain that they are preserved honorably, and that information available on that media can be accessed if it is necessary.