Do Not Leave for Summer Vacation without an Estate Plan.

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KS and MO Attorney Kyle E Krull

Written by Kyle Krull

Attorney & Counsellor at Law Kyle Krull is president of the Law Offices of Kyle E. Krull, P.A., an Estate Planning Law Firm located in Overland Park, KS. Estate Planning Attorney Kyle Krull has provided continuing education instruction to attorneys, accountants, and financial professionals at local, state, and national programs.

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POSTED ON: July 4, 2024

Estate planning documents should be in place before traveling with family or friends for summer vacation.

Leaving for summer vacation without an estate plan in place is a risky move.

Happy Independence Day!

As I write this, our republic is celebrating the 4th of July with family gatherings, public proclamations, and fireworks (both public and private).

Regarding the fireworks, our neighborhood sounded like a "war zone" late into the night.

With school out for the summer, many families vacation together during these warm months.

While these families prepare for such shared adventures by meticulously planning every detail - travel, lodging, activities, and packing - many neglect a crucial step.

They forgo creating an estate plan and mistakenly assume their worst-case vacation scenario involves missed flights.

But what if someone in the family entourage were to die or become incapacitated while away from home?

In that scenario, loved ones would be left navigating the chaos of unexpected loss and lack of estate planning.

Summer vacation is more relaxing when affairs are in order.

You can have peace of mind enjoying your summer vacation when your estate plan is in order.

The Risks of Not Planning Before Summer Vacation

Predicting what will happen on vacation is impossible.

While everyone hopes for smiling faces and happy memories, these are not guaranteed.

Unforeseen events, illnesses, and accidents can all occur on summer vacation.

You and your loved ones will need to have specific legal documents in place to address these situations as they arise.

According to a National Law Review article titled "Don't Wait until Time Is Up," your family could face various legal hurdles if you do not have an advance health care directive, a general durable power of attorney, and a last will and testament.

Perhaps your unique circumstance could also benefit from having a "fully funded" revocable living trust.

Common Estate Planning Mistakes Due to Procrastination

Financial Disarray.

Suppose you become injured or incapacitated while on your summer vacation and do not have a general durable power of attorney.

In that case, you may be left without anyone legally able to manage your finances.

As a result, your assets could be frozen, and your children or spouse could be left without access to or financial support.


Medical Decisions.

By definition, those who are incapacitated cannot make their own medical decisions.

This fact makes an advance health care directive essential.

Without the appropriate documentation, your loved ones could be prevented from making critical healthcare decisions for you.

Both intrafamily conflict and treatment delays are likely consequences.

Guardianship Concerns.

Those with minor children need to nominate guardians legally.

These designations are typically included in a last will.

By documenting your wishes in your estate plan, you can select the individuals you wish to rear your children should both parents become incapacitated or die.

Failing to document your wishes will leave the courts with the authority to designate your guardians.

The process can be long, and the results may not be who you would have selected.

Why Plan Before Your Summer Vacation?

There are three main reasons for prioritizing your estate planning before leaving for a trip.

Peace of Mind

Nobody wants to worry about whether their loved ones will be taken care of if something happens while they are on vacation.

Prioritizing estate planning allows you to rest and relax on your summer vacation.

Protection for Minor Children

Having a guardian nominated in your last will ensures your children will be cared for by someone you trust rather than a foster family or relative with vastly different values (or no values at all!).

Streamlined Legal Processes

Probate can take a (really) long time when no estate plan is in place.

This can cost your loved ones time, money, and emotional energy.

Steps to Take Now

Review and Update Existing Documents.

If you already have created an estate plan, you are ahead of many Americans.

Even so, it would help if you did not become complacent.

Before leaving for your vacation, you should review your plan.

If your family situation has changed, such as marriage or a new child, you should update your existing plan.

Establish a Living Trust.

A fully funded revocable living trust has various benefits.

It will allow your assets held by the trust to avoid probate at death and be efficiently managed should you become incapacitated.

Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney.

Estate planning is not something people should navigate alone.

It is unrealistic for the average American to understand the complexities of state and federal estate law.

Working with an experienced estate planning attorney allows you to benefit from the knowledge of a seasoned professional in the field.

Secure Your Summer with Proper Planning.

As you check off steps you need to take before leaving for summer vacation, include estate planning on your list.

Doing so will allow you to avoid legal issues should something arise while you are traveling.

What are Key Takeaways for Summer Vacation and Estate Planning?

Estate planning is as essential to travel as ensuring you have tickets and IDs.

An advance health care directive, a general durable power of attorney, and a last will (and perhaps a "fully funded" revocable living trust) are necessary to protect your family.

Nominating a guardian for minor children and providing financial support for their upbringing prevents the courts from having to do so without a deep understanding of your family dynamics.

Failing to have an estate plan in place can give rise to legal complications and family disputes if tragedy strikes while you are on summer vacation.

Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is essential for creating a comprehensive estate plan to meet your specific needs while addressing state and federal laws.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice concerning any particular issue or problem. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship between Harvest Law KC and the reader.

Reference: The National Law Review (Sep. 12, 2023) "Don't Wait until Time Is Up"

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