If you’re traveling abroad for the holidays this year, whether alone or with family, to a neighboring country or around the world, don’t forget to take care of business before you go—and by business we mean the legal stuff.
While it’s important to photocopy your passport, get travel and medical insurance, and make sure you have the required documentation for your children, you should also make sure you have a will and a power of attorney. As unpleasant as it may be, accidents—even death—can and do happen while traveling. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a checklist of what you should take care of before you head out the door.
1. Photocopy Passports and Travel Documents
Make two photocopies of your passport and travel documents such as a visa or itinerary. Leave one copy at home so relatives know your whereabouts in case of emergency and take the other set with you. The extra copy is useful in the event your passport is stolen—it’s much easier for the U.S. Embassy to issue a new one without delay.
2. Get Travel Insurance
Although optional, travel insurance provides travelers peace of mind and covers such unforeseen events as trip cancellations and delays, natural disasters, lost baggage and medical emergencies.
3. Get Medical Insurance
Your medical insurance may not cover injury or sickness incurred while out of the country. If your insurance does not, then you may need to purchase supplemental medical insurance to cover you while you travel.
4. Carry Documentation for Children
When crossing international borders—even on a cruise—not only do you need a passport, if you are traveling with children, you may need additional documentation to prove that you are, in fact, the parent or legal guardian. In the case of different last names, you’ll need an original, certified or notarized birth certificate in addition to the child’s passport. If you are the legal guardian, you must present a certified Certificate of Guardianship as well.
5. Create a Last Will and Testament
Having a last will and testament in place is always a good idea—especially when you travel—and fortunately for the majority of people, creating a will is quick, easy and affordable.
6. Create a Living Will
A living will outlines your wishes for medical care in the event of incapacity. A living will is especially important if you are traveling with elderly parents or anyone who has a serious illness.
7. Create a Power of Attorney for Health Care
In conjunction with a living will, it’s important to have a power of attorney for health care. This document lets you designate a person to make health care decisions for you in the event you become unable to make them yourself.
8. Create a Durable Power of Attorney
Similar to a power of attorney for health care, a durable power of attorney lets you designate a person who can act on your behalf in financial dealings. This document can come in handy when you are out of town and need someone to represent your interests.