Power of Attorney: morbid, difficult, NECESSARY

by - Sunday, October 02, 2016

Good Rainy Afternoon from Seoul:




I am going to talk about something that a lot of travelers, expats and people in general often overlook:

If something horrible were to happen to you today, who would you trust to take care of your final arrangements?

Before I moved overseas, I had a conversation with my sister about power of attorney. I felt that it was something that we should both have- and be- for one another since we're estranged from both parents, and we're both not married.

That means that if something happened to one of us, whether abroad or home, the decisions behind what would happen to us from a medical and personal property standpoint would likely be placed in our next of kin's hands. In both of our cases, this would be our parents, neither of whom we would even know where to look for these days.

Look: nobody likes to think about death, but it's a grim reality that we'll all eventually face. There have been countless stories of people meeting their death unexpectedly abroad, most recently this tragic case in the Seychelles.



With every story comes a reminder of the importance of solidifying a power of attorney in case of the unthinkable.

Beyond a power of attorney is the need for a last will and testament. You may think you're gonna live to be close to 90 like your grandmother [mine], but even then someone has to take care of finalizing everything for you. What of your bank accounts? Your home? Your valuables? Your current, financial obligations? Your documented memories? Your pets? Who makes medical decisions for you in the event that you're completely incapacitated? To pull the plug, or to hold out as long as possible? Tough stuff, y'all.


If anything were to happen to me today, my family would not be burdened by funeral expenses [first of all, I don't want one]. I have insurance thorough my employer, I have life insurance, I have adequate savings and little debt, and I also have an annual policy for frequent travelers with Seven Corners to cover unconventional expenses should something happen while I'm away.  I have let my sisters know what my final wishes are, which are extremely low maintenance and cost efficient, and I trust that they'd honor them. But until it was on a legal document, it was all lip service. And you'd be surprised at what people are willing to fight over while grieving the loss of a loved one.

Regardless of where you are in the world, it would truly benefit you to see a lawyer and draft a last will and testament, and appoint a medical Power of Attorney. There are templates online for wills and POAs but the last thing you'd want is for something to not be recognized in your home state because it was done wrong, and ultimately contested in a courtroom. Do your loved ones a favor and take care of this while you're able.

It's a super easy process. You can Google a reputable estate attorney in your area, pay their fee, provide them the documents they'll need, and then have peace of mind thereafter. Peace of mind is absolutely priceless. 


Shit happens friends. The plans that you have for your life may not turn out as you expected. If you're a single person without close ties to your immediate family, I can't stress how important taking care of this is. Even if you're married, having a will of your final wishes could save your loved ones a lot of additional grief in the aftermath.

I am not a legal advisor, so take what I say here as you see fit. But please provide yourself peace of mind above all else. I am not afraid of death, and ultimately none of the specifics will matter to 'me' once I'm gone on to the next journey. But I care about my loved ones too much to place such an avoidable burden on them once I am gone. Hopefully this won't be anything we'll have to worry about for many, many years.

Have the conversation with someone you trust today.

In the interim, here's an awesome, thorough and surprisingly quick read on the necessity of estate planning.

Happy, peaceful travels!

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18 comments

  1. Everyone should have something like this in place. Not only in case of death, but in case of sickness too. You never know.

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  2. I agree too often we don't want to think about the "what ifs" but it's so much better to have a plan in place just in case. I need to do these very things myself since I travel quite often. I need to be sure my family knows my wishes and has copies of all of them in writing.

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  3. Girl! This is so timely. And not just for people who travel. I'm single, no kids and I have been thinking of doing this for a while in the event something happens. I just have not gotten to the attorney yet. Two nights ago I get that dreaded call that comes in the wee hours of the morning, informing that my 42 year old cousin passed away. After spending much of yesterday helping me aunt process his death and plan a funeral I know I'm getting this done. It'll make things so much easier on my family.

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    1. Very sorry for your loss. Condolences to your family and your aunt :( 42 is too young.

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  4. I think about this often, especially when we're about to go on a trip. I know l should do it, but l just can't bring myself to. Read about those two sisters and l thought of it again..sad..gotta get it going.

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    1. Yep. Just do it and put it in the back of your head. At least you're married and can let hubby know your wishes.

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  5. I think it is very responsible to have everything in order because in this crazy world, you just never know.

    http://www.distinguisheddiva.com/2016/10/postcard-from-ottoman-and-modern.html

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  6. So sad about the women in Seychelles! I think most people don't want to think about the possibility of death but it's something that via occur. It's important to handle these things because it is hard for the family to mourn and make decisions that could have been made fby the deceased.

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  7. I did this prior to leaving for Europe. It's extremely important and you just never know. After flying home this past weekend, I see they it's important for day to day life as well.

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  8. Great post. This is a subject that eeoe don't want to think about but like you said, very necessary. Thanks for the reminder.

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  9. Great post. This is a subject that eeoe don't want to think about but like you said, very necessary. Thanks for the reminder.

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  10. This sucks to talk about but it is so necessary. It is even worse to have a situation that you aren't prepared for. Better safe than sorry.

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  11. Poa is def something to consider even if you're not living aboard. I like how you've life insurance as well. It is just as important.

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  12. Hubby starts freaking out when I bring this type of stuff up but its so important. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. When I travel I try not to think of morbid thoughts. This is very responsible of you to do this even if it seems like putting a damper on traveling so much.

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  14. You know, you're absolutely right, this may seem morbid but it's necessary. I'm getting ready to travel next month, and this is very timely.

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  15. Excellent advice. This is something we don't want to do or talk about but is absolutely necessary. I know that I will be taking heed.

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  16. Stuff like this is so ijmportant! So glad to read this article of yours.

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