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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