November 2015

Legal Issues Related To International Travel

As the holidays approach and many clients travel to visit loved ones, we want you to be aware of estate planning issues that may be raised by your travel.

Traveling, whether at home or abroad, can make it difficult to meet routine obligations unless you plan ahead. Especially when traveling for extended periods, you should consider having the right legal documentation in place prior to you departure. Powers of Attorney and Medical Directives are essential tools to ensuring you are covered both at home and abroad.

Prior to departure, we recommend that clients review their Powers of Attorney to ensure that they are up to date and appoint a trusted fiduciary to take care of matters at home. The appointed agent should have the power to manage assets and pay bills while you are away. This is even more important when travel plans coincide with major transactions, such as the sale of a home or business interest. Having a recently-executed Power of Attorney will ensure that there is someone ready to execute important documents on your behalf.

Travel abroad can also affect your health insurance coverage, as well as your ability to make health care decisions for loved ones traveling with you. We recommend that each member of your travel party consider having an updated Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney allowing a travel companion to make certain decisions regarding health care and treatment. While many countries have legislation authorizing health care powers of attorney and advance directives, you should consider reviewing the laws of specific countries where you are traveling for assurances that your U.S. compliant documents will be recognized. If you are traveling with a minor child, that directive should include a consent to travel as well as a medical consent for that child. We also recommend that you contact your health insurance provider prior to departure to determine whether you are covered for international travel or whether you will need to add some form of travel insurance. Certain insurance companies provide the same coverage overseas as they do at home, however you should expect to pay out of network fees if treatment is sought while abroad. Many overseas providers may seek payment up front, however early intervention by your insurance provider can alleviate this issue.

As you plan for your holiday travels, please keep these tips in mind. Also make sure that any year-end gifting is completed prior to your departure, as many Powers of Attorneys do not permit others to make gifts of your assets.