Warm Weather Special for Estate Planning

My Estate Planning Professor used to talk about “Warm Weather Specials” for the Summer, when clients would call on the spur of the moment, leaving the next week (or day), needing to create or update an estate plan.

Word processing helps speed of delivery of course, but that’s not estate planning.

Fortunately, if we can consult with the client and get needed information on assets, income, liabilities, goals, needs, client’s health, and family, we can move pretty quickly in our office to get them planned and on the road.  However, notwithstanding a plan being up to date, what I’ve found is that the clients often don’t take on the road with them what they might really need for their summertime travels.

So here’s my attempt at a basic estate/elder law planning survival kit for your Summer vacation:

First, take your health care advance directives, Medicare and/or Medicaid cards, Driver’s License or State Identification Card if you don’t drive anymore.  To further clarify, in Florida your health care advance directives would typically include a living will, a health care surrogate designation, and a HIPAA or general medical release.  Running out of room already in your fanny pack?  Try my friends at LEGALDIRECTIVES, LLC, which provides a simple but brilliant “Medical Access Program” via electronic storage and delivery (at the time of need) of those advance directives.  Here’s a link to their site: https://www.legaldirectives.com/index.php.  In fact, we think so highly of their services, we provide for you to be enrolled automatically when you choose to prepare your Revocable Living Trust plan with our office.  Their Emergency Medical Information Card goes in your wallet next to your id and health care insurance cards, to complete your road travel kit for health care.

Oh, one other thing: I always forget something when I travel.  If, unfortunately, you are under a Florida “DNR” order from your physician, please remember to take a hard copy of that with you.  Otherwise, EMR teams will do what they by law otherwise have to do to keep you going in the event of an accident, medical episode or other trauma during your vacation.

I’m also big on your carrying emergency contact information for family, neighbors, attorney, CPA, priest/minister/rabbi, co-workers, attorney-in-fact, and others whom you might need to contact to handle things for you in your absence, or to coordinate things for you back home in the event of an unexpected emergency or occurrence.  Most of us now keep that information on our cell phone now.  If so, make sure that your spouse or travel companions know how to access that information for you, if needed, and if you are out of it at the time of need.  If you want the A+, you can even scan and take your emergency contact list and directions with you from your estate planning notebook as a pdf document on your smartphone, flash drive, personal tablet, or as a printout stuck in your Bible or pleasure reading materials.

Again, make sure that is findable by others with you in case you are personally out of it at the time of need!

Based on my own recent travels last weekend to historic Ft. Caroline area in Jacksonville, FL, and then beautiful Gainesville, FL, you also might want to take a mosquito net, bug spray, first aid kit, and sunblock as well!

And from a consumer law standpoint, remember not to buy any timeshares while on vacation.  Those are never a good idea for very long.  You’d be able to stay in a lot of 3 to 5 star hotels for what you’d pay for one of those.  If you forget the last three sentences, remember to rescind the timeshare purchase in writing timely prior to midnight on the third day after the purchase, and not 4 months later when you finally get back in town and come to see me to do so for you.  It might be a little late, then (but we can try)!  Also, don’t count on your credit card company to back you up if you lose faith in the timeshare seller.  The credit card lender is real good about saying “That’s a civil dispute that you’ll have to resolve with the seller”, absent an absolute fraudulent transaction, approaching criminal activity by the seller, which fortunately in rare, but not without precedent.

Keep safe out there this summer, and obey the rules of the road as you go.  Good luck and God Bless!

Don’t be a victim of one size fits all planning.  Know your legal rights on estate planning and act accordingly!

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