posted on June 07, 2018 by Willingham & Cote

by Estate & Gifts, Heather Gilkey


In response to the ever-increasing globalization of our workforce, part of a well-rounded education often includes international travel. Whether you are scheduling some exciting travel this summer for yourself, or are a parent of a college-aged student who is travelling abroad, traveling outside of the United States is a terrific educational opportunity.   However, while many travelers  are busy with packing, passports, and perusing exciting travel books, there are important legal documents that travelers 18 years and older should possess before stepping foot on a plane or train. 


Durable Power of Attorney of Healthcare

The first document is entitled a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.  This document allows the Patient (the adult traveler) to appoint a Patient Advocate to make medical treatment and end of life medical decisions when the adult traveler is unable to make them due to incapacity. What if the adult traveler gets sick overseas? If you have a travel buddy that you know and trust implicitly, you may want to consider making this person your Patient Advocate for the duration of your trip. As long as you are living and are competent and have capacity, you can change your Patient Advocate designation at any time.

The risk is real.  Accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults, and a quarter-million Americans between 18 and 25 are hospitalized with nonlethal injuries each year.  Here in the States, failure to designate a Patient Advocate may lead to court involvement and the appointment of a corporate Guardian that will make those personal medical decisions for you based on your current state and not the wishes you may have expressed to family and friends.   When travelling abroad, medical professionals may  be hesitant to discuss medical issues and treatment due to privacy concerns.  This document may not guarantee their cooperation, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters

The second important item is a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, often called, “Attorney In Fact”. If your adventure leads you to a remote village in Bora Bora where you are lying on the beach, hanging in a hut, and purposefully tuned out from tech – don’t let that nagging feeling of “I forgot to pay my utility bill” ruin your relaxation.   Or, in case of an emergency, having a power of attorney makes it easier to contact the local embassy or wire money from the traveler’s bank account, for example. It could also come in handy if a parent or other nominated attorney-in-fact needs to sign a legal document, such as a lease, in the traveler’s absence.

Appoint a trusted person to act as your Attorney-In-Fact. Given a current grant of authority, your Attorney-In-Fact can access your accounts to send you more shopping money, pay your bills or your bail if you’re having a really good time. If you have a business back home in the United States and an emergency situation arises – who will pay your business’ bills? Sign paychecks? While I am sure you have a trusted employee – you may not want that employee to know confidential business matters or be listed as a co-signer on the corporate checking account. Failure to appoint an Attorney –In-Fact could result in court involvement over your financial affairs by the appointment of a professional Conservator.

Pack peace of mind.

If you have questions about these or any other legal documents, please contact Heather Gilkey at Willingham & Cotè, P.C.  

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