With March right around the corner, the most common question I get from my kids is “What are we doing for spring break?” This is one of the most popular questions being asked here in South Florida, not only by all school kids but by their busy parents who are in dire need of a vacation. Luckily, South Florida’s weather during this time of the year stays at around the mid 70's so we are left craving some cooler climates unlike the rest of the country. Sorry guys, we love our summer year-round weather, but we do need a blast of cool air once in a while!
Still, tourists flood our airports and head to the cruise terminals and beaches. With so many people traveling, the opportunities for mischief are endless.
In my family, we are lucky to have a large extended family that (almost) always steps up to watch our children if we’re away on a trip. But, if one of my kids needs treatment at the emergency room or a permission slip for school, the depth of Grandma’s love is not a replacement for the authority of a parent or guardian. Similarly, we get some of the best babysitters to ever walk the planet, but they will not be able to act on our children’s behalf if it becomes necessary. Doing a little bit of planning now will help avoid these types of situations.
If you are planning a vacation, you probably have a lot to prepare for before you get away. Between structuring your itinerary, getting plane tickets, cruise reservations, and booking hotels, creating an estate plan is probably not something you thought to add to your to-do list. But, think again and consider that now is the time to take action on this vital piece of your legal life planning.
If something were to happen to you while away on vacation, whether an illness, injury or even death, your family would be stuck with a huge mess to clean up. How huge could that mess be? Here are some points to consider:
- Might the kids end up in foster care?
- Could they be split up?
- Who would permanently care for the kids?
- How will the needs of the children be paid for?
- What happens to your business or your job?
- Who will update your social media?
The Gomez family of Northern Florida is an unfortunate example. Mom, dad and three kids went on a roadtrip to Orlando where they were in a terrible accident. Mom and dad died, and their three boys were injured, but alive.
It took the authorities a couple of days to locate any relatives, during which time the boys were in the protective custody of strangers. A fate no parent ever wants for their children in a time of tragedy, fear and grief. The family member that was located first was a sister of the mom and she promptly took the boys to her home and didn't let any other family members see the boys.
It took many hundreds of thousands of dollars and at least 7 lawyers to sort out the family fighting that ensued over both the boys and the assets left behind by the Gomez parents. It all could have been easily avoided with a small amount of planning in advance. Making the commitment now to create a comprehensive estate plan will ensure your loved ones will not be stuck in court or conflict, if the unexpected happens while you are on vacation.
At least 6 weeks before you leave, schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session with us. During that Session, we’ll get you more financially organized than you’ve ever been before (ensuring none of your assets are lost if you are injured on your vacation) and guide you to make informed, empowered and educated choices for yourself and the people you love most. If you are leaving sooner than 8 weeks from now, call our office and let us know you need a rush Family Wealth Planning Session and we will see what we can do to get you started.
Whatever you do, do not just think that a standard set of estate planning documents will serve you or your family. What you and your family need is a plan that properly addresses the care of your children (if you have minors at home), your assets and the parts of your life that go beyond just the money. We can explain more during your Family Wealth Planning Session.