Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When Traveling, Plan Ahead

We Boomers are much more global than our parents ever were. The lure of adventure and disposable income has sometimes resulted in multiple overseas trips in a lifetime. While we have benefited from being part of this generation, the world can be a not so friendly place. Exciting as traveling may be, please be sure to plan ahead and prepare for the unexpected. To insure you safe and easier travel, take a moment to reflect on the following advice, courtesy of our law firm and the US State Department,

  1. Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free online service, so the State Department can better assist you in an emergency at https://travelregistration.state.gov. This will help the State Department contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where you are traveling. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts will not be released to others without your express authorization.
  2. Sign your passport, and fill in the emergency information: Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport. 
  3. Leave copies of itinerary and passport data page: Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends, so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
  4. Check your overseas medical insurance coverage: Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.
  5. Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws: While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. The State Department web site at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1765.html has useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit.
  6. Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime: To avoid being a target of crime, do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers.
  7. Contact a Consular in an emergency: Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov. Also note that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.
  8. Have your Estate Planning Documents Updated: While no one wants to dwell on our mortality, It is important for many people to ensure that their families and financial goals are met after their death. No matter what a person’s net worth is, it is important to have a basic estate plan. It is also important to discuss your wishes with your heirs to avoid confusion and conflict after you die.
    A basic estate plan should include a will, a financial power of attorney and an advanced care directive. These basic estate documents address after-death issues like who the asset goes to, who is handling the financial affairs and who is responsible for making medical decisions upon an individual’s medical incompetency.
Having prepared for traveling out of the country will eliminate stress and allow you to relax. Bon Voyage!

Mary-Anne E. Martell is founder and senior legal Counsel for Seacoast Law. The firm is
located at 1399 Bridgton Road, Westbrook, ME 04092. She welcomes questions and/or
comments at law@seacoastlawme.com and can be reached at (207) 591-7880.

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