Are you ready for some stress-free summer travels? What favorite summer vacations do you remember from childhood? Any “trips to remember” stories? As a kid, we had no worries, no stress, just jumped in the vehicle when it was time to leave, right? Our family enjoyed two-week drives to the Western states in the family camper (when it was legal to ride in the bed above the truck cab so you could watch out the window at the sites). So much fun and no worries!
Planning to be Away
But now as adults, to be truly stress-free, you need to consider and take care of a lot more. Depending on how long you may be away, beyond packing there could be pet care, mail forwarding, house/plant sitting, etc. And if you’re like me, you may have a prescription delivery at your home, not via mail. So I have to make special arrangements for my eye drops to be “stock-piled” before I leave to last me on my journey. And don’t forget the Must-Dos of estate planning “before you go”.
The Magical Trip Deadline
I jokingly (but not really) tell my financial planning clients to book a trip on the calendar if they want to get their estate planning documents in order (I am not kidding). Then the process they have procrastinated for so long (drafting or updating a will/trust), somehow magically gets done by that deadline. The most popular months for will and trust signing are June, July, and August, right before people leave on a trip!
A Practical List
You may be thinking, what a Debbie Downer! Here we are talking about fun subjects like travel and summer vacations and I am getting all morbid on you talking about the “what if” side of travel. But having things in order not only provides peace of mind for you, but can also reduce distress for your family if something should happen during your travels. Here’s a checklist of important items to complete before traveling:
- Trust (if applicable)
- Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney
- Mental (in some states)/Health Care Power of Attorney/Living Will/Advanced Health Care Directive
- Personal Property Disposition List
- List of Assets
Your “To Go” Bag
Some folks even put their Power of Attorney documents in a “To Go” bag that they take with them in their vehicle so it’s always with them. It could also include a list of medications, allergies, and contact information for family and/or health care providers. Then no matter where we are, we are really ready “before we go.”
Not So Happy Travel Endings
Do you know anyone who had a health event or died unexpectedly while traveling? I bet many of us do. I know a woman whose husband passed away on an international golf trip with buddies in Ireland. A couple who dealt with a husband’s health event wintering in Florida ended up staying for months and deciding to live there permanently. And a friend of the family had a heart attack on a cruise and cut his trip short when he had to go ashore to a hospital. So it does happen!
A Complete Checklist
For a more complete checklist to think these things through, my little book (purse size and you can read it in 20 minutes or less), The Before Financial Checklist, is just the tool we need to “cut to the chase and tell us what to do.” It’s a 15-step checklist all about the final “before you go” time of life that starts with getting us financially organized, then walks us through the necessary homework, warns you about common mistakes people make and ends with things to think about as you get those important estate planning documents completed.
What’s Your Deadline?
So give yourself a deadline, the date of your next trip, to get something more done in preparation for your final “before you go” time. Maybe you need documents drafted/updated, a financial inventory compiled, or to have a conversation with who needs to know more detail. Once you get it all taken care of, you truly can live my motto: less worry, more life!