Do you have summer plans? Maybe you are taking your family to an amusement park or to the beach? Or maybe you are traveling to visit family? Whatever adventure awaits you, there is nothing quite like getting away and enjoying some well deserved rest and relaxation!

To ensure a successful trip, you probably do a bit of planning. Vacation checklists might help you to remember to close the garage, confirm hotel reservations, and to make sure you've packed enough sunscreen.

For one client, meeting with a lawyer to finalize her family's estate plan was a pre-vacation must. Her mind was filled with all sorts of what ifs that would prevent her from enjoying her time at the beach.

We discussed her family's needs and set about to prepare an estate plan that provided her with the peace of mind so she could relax.

Without a doubt, it can be daunting to think about estate planning. And those what ifs can border on the morbid. But what if you or a family member is severely injured while on vacation? What if catastrophe strikes? In the event of the unthinkable, it is important to make sure that everything is in place to protect you, your family, and your assets.

1. Make your will

A lot of people, including more than half of your fellow Americans, put off having a will. In another post, I answered the question "do I need a will?"

Your will indicates how you want your assets divided after you pass away and who you want to raise your minor children. It's a really important document. Without a will, default rules (called the laws of intestacy) determine how assets will be divided and a judge will determine who will raise your children.

There are lots of reasons why a will is important and the reasons depend on your individual and family situation. But you can rest easier knowing your final wishes will be honored.

2. Have an advanced directive

An advanced directive, or a living will, helps doctors and family members follow your wishes regarding your health care if you are unable to speak for yourself.

The advanced directive can provide specifics about the kind of care you want and/or it can designate a particular individual to serve as a health care surrogate on your behalf.

Having an advanced directive in place can help to avoid your family's uncertainty and confusion and to ensure your wishes are followed.

3. Update beneficiary designations

Your biggest assets may be life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Often, these assets are non-probate assets. That means they pass by the terms of the underlying contract, rather than through the terms of your last will and testament.

It is very important to review and understand the designations you've included on these accounts. Designating the wrong individual (even when that person seems like the right person) can result in consequences that can cause delay and cost money.

Have a relaxing vacation

Ensure that you have a truly relaxing vacation by taking your "what if" worry off the table. Contact Peter at Brackney Law Office to discuss your family's estate plan and to cross these off your "to do" list.

You can also learn more about our estate planning services and download a fact-finder to get started by clicking here.

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