With summer just around the corner, many families are looking forward to a much-needed vacation. Perhaps your plans involve an exciting sightseeing tour, a laid back ocean cruise, camping at the lake with family friends, or a relaxing couple’s getaway (while the kids spend quality time with grandma and grandpa). Whatever your cup of tea, it is inevitable that there will be a lot to wrap up at home and at work before you can go on that lovely vacation. To help ease the stress, here is a checklist of some important legal and financial items that you may not have thought of:
1. Inform Your Home Insurance Provider (if necessary)
Review your home insurance policy. Often, these policies require you to notify your insurance provider if your home remains vacant for longer than a certain number of days. By complying with the terms of the policy, you can ensure that it remains in effect while you are away. Otherwise, should something happen to your home, your insurer may have the right to deny coverage.
2. Obtain Travel Insurance and Ensure Adequate Coverage
Having travel insurance is a smart idea – you never know if you will encounter unexpected illness or injury on your travels. Ensure that you are covered for your entire trip from beginning to end. Check for all sources of coverage you may already have, so that you do not end up paying for unnecessary duplication. If your employer provides health benefits, review the policy to see if a certain amount of travel insurance comes with it. Certain credit cards with travel incentives may also provide some coverage, as long as you follow the instructions for obtaining medical services and use the card to pay for it. If you need additional coverage on top of this, make sure you obtain it before your trip.
3. Make Copies of Important Documents
Before you leave, make copies of your passports, travel itinerary, credit cards, and emergency contact information. Ensure that these copies are secure, but accessible to you, in case you lose these while travelling and need to take appropriate action. If you have a trusted friend or family member who will be remaining in town, you may want to consider leaving copies with them in case you need their assistance in some way.
4. Inform Relevant Credit Card Providers
If you will be using certain credit cards while on vacation, you should inform those credit card providers about your travel plans. They can then note your itinerary on their file. Otherwise, they may flag your transactions in foreign cities as suspicious and immediately suspend your account from further use.
5. Complete (or update) your Estate Plan
While it might be unpleasant to think about, it is prudent to have an estate plan in place. This is especially critical if you have minor children, as you will want to ensure that you have designated guardians under a Will and are not leaving this to chance. For further reading on the topic of appointing a guardian, please see our previous article, “Why Every Parent Should have a Will”. If you already have an estate plan in place, it’s a good idea to review your Will to see if any circumstances have changed since it was executed. If it requires updating, get this done before your trip while your mind is on it – otherwise, you may end up putting off this important task once you’ve returned. If a number of years have passed since you executed your Will (and especially if your circumstances have changed), it’s necessary to have a legal advisor review and update it. Much has changed in the law of wills and estates in the last few years.
6. Consider if you need to Execute a Power of Attorney
If there is anything legal or financial that may need attending to while you’re away (i.e., the potential sale of real estate), it may be appropriate to execute a Power of Attorney in favour of a trusted friend or family member. A Power of Attorney is a document that enables you to grant authority to a designated person to take care of legal or financial matters on your behalf. You get to decide the scope of authority you would like to grant – whether only for a narrow, specific purpose or for broad, general purposes to cover anything that should arise. In the event of an emergency, it may be very helpful to have a trusted individual who can assist you to access your various accounts and information through a General Power of Attorney. Your designated attorney will simply need a signed, original Power of Attorney to exercise the authority granted under it. Should you wish to discontinue the powers granted under a Power of Attorney on your return or at any other time, this is easily done; you would just need to retrieve the signed, original document from your designated attorney. You may choose to hold on to this document for safekeeping and provide him or her with it again the next time it becomes necessary; alternatively, you can revoke it by destroying all originals and signing a document stating that you are revoking it. For those who need estate planning advice or Powers of Attorney and wish to do this before leaving town, please contact us. We are happy to accommodate your timeline and help you enjoy your vacation with peace of mind.
Happy travels, everyone!
Estate Planning and Litigation
Lindsay Kenney LLP