YOUR FINANCIAL ESTATE can ultimately end up in a lot of places other than where you intended. Without proper planning, you may wind up leaving a significant portion of your hard-earned assets to the government, creditors or unintended heirs.
Like packing your essential travel documents, your estate documents are there to protect you and your interests just in case.
Key estate planning documents include
• Advance health care directive
• Durable power of attorney
• Revocable living trust
Your essential travel documents may include a driver’s license, a passport and an emergency contact list. As you begin to travel more frequently and to more remote destinations, things get slightly more complicated. You may need certain vaccines and visas. Certain luxuries, like Global Entry and airport lounges, can reduce the stress and travel fatigue. You should view your estate documents in an equivalent manner.
When you travel, your passport helps foreign governments establish your identity and suggests certain travel protection liberties while not explicitly guaranteeing them. A will works similarly to identify your assets and acts as a suggestion as to how your assets should be distributed.
On trips to more remote countries, you may take medication for malaria or vaccines for typhoid and hepatitis. Sometimes these are required, but in many cases they are merely suggested just in case. Advance health care directives and a durable power of attorney perform a similar function. While there is no intention to become incapacitated, these documents act as insurance just in case. Health care directives dictate what actions should be taken for your health if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself due to illness. A durable power of attorney gives a trusted individual the power to make important financial decisions for you in the event you are not able to make them for yourself. Like common travel vaccines, these documents are preventative and, while many times only suggested, they can be critical.
Those who travel frequently may be well-acquainted with Global Entry and the oasis airport lounges can provide. While only a luxury to the casual traveler, frequent globetrotters know these to be necessary. While not appropriate or necessary to all, a trust becomes essential and necessary for those with complex family situations and cross-border interests. For example, those with non-citizen spouses may not be able to transfer their assets tax-free to their surviving spouse without a trust. Or for those with property across state lines, the appropriate trust may alleviate multistate probate.
Through estate planning, you can act now to ensure you control the fate of your family, yourself and your assets in the event of your incapacity or death.
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