Heading to a warm climate is a good idea but perhaps it is best to consider legal issues before leaving.
If you are a retiree who heads south after the holidays, it might be wise to create a checklist of at least four personal legal business items, according to LimaOhio.com in “Extra checklist before heading south for the winter.”
First, make sure that your general/financial power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney documents have been updated. Does your family have copies of these documents? Or do they have 24/7 access through a portal from your estate planning law firm?
Some law firms provide laminated cards for clients to give to family and friends that gives the holders of the cards access to these powers, while clients are out of town. Others are starting to use encrypted thumb drives, so that clients have documents wherever they go. Make sure you have these documents and that the people who will need them, either have them or can get them in a moment’s notice.
Second, review your living will with your estate planning attorney. Update them if changes need to be made and get copies to your children and/or friends.
Third, make sure that your last will and testament is updated. Have you had any big changes in your life since the last time it was reviewed? Marriages, deaths, divorces, births and adoptions are the typical “trigger” events that signal a need for review. Who will have that document? If your estate planning attorney maintains original copies for clients, then make sure to have another original on your person or safely secured with a loved one.
Lastly, and this takes a little time but is well worth doing, create a list of all your assets. Make sure they are properly titled for your situation. Should you have all your bank accounts become Payable on Death to your spouse? When was the last time you checked your beneficiary designations? Chances are good there are beneficiary designations on your bank, investment, and retirement accounts and on your life insurance policies. Wherever you have a beneficiary designation, you should also have a contingency beneficiary.
Any of our estate planning attorneys would be happy to advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances which may include a trip in a southerly direction.