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Digital packing tips: Estate planning & travel

In this guide, the experts at Trust & Will break down the best way to counteract any unexpected travel mishaps — updating your estate plan

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Disclaimer: Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. Trust & Will is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice.

Planning a vacation is often what people look forward to most about the summer holidays. It is a time for us to step away from our responsibilities and unwind. Whether you are planning a solo trip, get-away with your significant other, or family vacation, traveling gives you the opportunity to create lasting memories outside of your everyday life. And while planning for a trip can be a lot of work already, it is important to also think through what would happen if something went wrong while you were away from home.

Planning and traveling go hand-in-hand, but it’s not just clothes and a toothbrush you need to pack—don’t forget about your digital packing as well. Digital packing refers to making sure you have all of your important accounts and documents in order before you go. This includes things like your will, healthcare directive, and guardianship documents. Why are these documents so important? If you are traveling outside of your hometown and far from many of your loved ones, should you end up in an emergency, you’ll want to be prepared. Additionally, if you are traveling with minor children, Guardianship documents are an essential safety measure. In this guide, we’ll show you the best way to counteract any unexpected travel mishaps: updating your Estate Plan, including healthcare documents, and making sure the right people have access to it.

What is estate planning and why is it important?

Estate planning is the creation of a detailed document laying out your plans for your assets should you die, or if you can longer be responsible for them yourself. Your assets can include but are not limited to:

Not only does estate planning detail what should happen to your assets, but it allows you the chance to make known your wishes regarding your health directives and welfare of your minor children should you become incapacitated by an illness, tragic accident, or any other debilitating circumstances. By creating and updating your estate plan before you travel, you are taking necessary precautions to protect yourself, your children, and your assets.

In this article:

Digital packing tips when traveling

There are several parts of your Estate Plan you will want to update before you set off on your trip. Make sure that you have these items checked off your digital packing list before you go– and most importantly, share these documents with someone at home.

Wills and trusts

Your will gives a more detailed account of your assets and who is to receive your belongings upon your death. The list of your assets you will want passed along to your loved ones may change over time, which should in turn affect your will. It is easy to put off updating your will as you are already juggling so many other day-to-day tasks and pressing responsibilities. In between work, dropping off and picking up your children from their daily activities, completing your long list of household chores, and so much more, it can feel impossible to find the time to update your will. However, before a trip is the perfect time to make sure your will is fully up to date in case of an unforeseeable occurrence.

A trust is a legal document in which you appoint the responsibility of managing your assets to a trustee of your choosing. It is common to make yourself the trustee, with a successor trustee listed in case you find yourself in a position where you cannot be responsible for your assets. A trust also allows for a smooth transition of your assets upon your death, often granting your loved ones the ability to skip probate court entirely. If you have a trust in addition to a will, it will be important to thoroughly review them before traveling to make sure all assets you want included within your trust are accounted for.

We should add that, at Haven Life, we also believe having a term life insurance policy is an important part of long-term financial planning, as it helps make sure your family has financial protection in case the worst should happen (while traveling or otherwise). Start by getting a quote in minutes.

Healthcare directives

Healthcare directives are essential to ensure that your desires regarding your healthcare preferences are carried out as you would want them to be, even if you are unable to verbalize your wishes to medical personnel. Your healthcare directive is a document that states specifically what your requests are, while also listing who of your loved ones is allowed to make decisions on your behalf when you cannot do so yourself.

When traveling, it becomes even more important that your healthcare directives are fully up to date. If you are traveling, perhaps outside of your home country, and far from many of your loved ones, should you end up in a life-threatening situation, a coma, or in need of emergency surgery, you will want to make sure your healthcare wishes will be met.

It can often be beneficial to add one of the people you are traveling with to the list of people allowed to receive medical information on your condition for the duration of the trip. No one wants to be involved in a situation whereby they are hospitalized and incapacitated in a location far from home, with no one there to speak on your behalf regarding your medical decisions. By adding a member of your traveling party to your Healthcare Directive for the duration of the trip, you can rest more easily knowing you have prepared for any unfortunate situation that may arise.

Guardianship documents

If you are someone with minor children, guardianship documents are an essential safety measure when traveling. These documents will specify to whom you give authority over your minor children if you cannot care for them due to death or a medical emergency. When you are traveling, it can increase your chances of being in an accident. Additionally, if you are taking a family vacation, it can increase the risk of both parents becoming incapacitated or dying at the same time, leaving your children unattended to and unprotected. However, with nomination of guardianship documents, you can ensure that you have a set plan for your children’s care, even in the unimaginable, worst-case scenarios.

Upload and share documents

It’s crucial to have all of your documents in one place that is easily accessible to both you and your loved ones. There are many digital vault services that can provide you with a secure location to upload and share your documents. This way, should something happen to you while you are away from home, your loved ones will be able to quickly and easily locate all of the information they need in order to make important decisions on your behalf.

Trust & Will offers a shared access feature for your estate plan so your loved ones can view your important documents. You can upload your estate plan and notify the people who may be included in it, for example an executor or beneficiary. Enjoy the gift of peace of mind on your next vacation (and beyond) by knowing you have a solid plan in place and people you trust have access to it.

Traveling can be such an exciting and fun adventure to share with your loved ones, especially during the summer months. However, travel does pose some added risks to the safety and health of you and your family members. The last thing you want on your mind during your vacation is worrying about the unpredictable. Luckily, with Trust & Will’s online estate planning services, you can prepare for any situation you may face. You can create a fully customizable, state-specific Estate Plan from the comfort of your own home in just 20 minutes. Take Trust & Will’s free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare its different estate planning options.

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About Louis Wilson

Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.

Read more by Louis Wilson

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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