This past week my family and I spent a relaxing vacation in the mountains in eastern Tennessee. The mountain we were on didn’t have cell reception which was kind of a bonus. I guess not for those folks trying to reach me but it certainly worked out for my benefit.
This trip was a little different than normal Yugo family vacations because we added an additional member to our happy group; my son’s girlfriend Nicole. Adding Nicole took a little planning. Nicole is a vegetarian and my family are pretty committed carnivores so eating was a little challenging. Also, since the kids are both 16, I spent most of our hikes through the Smokey Mountains with one eye looking out for bears and the other one on the two 16-year-olds.
So anyway, on one afternoon we went horseback riding. Although it was really hot, the ride was fun; that is until Nicole passed out on her horse. I’m not entirely sure that she lost consciousness, but she doubled over and if Colin hadn’t jumped off his horse to catch her, she would have fallen. Fortunately she was OK after she got out of the sun and drank some water but it was really scary.
Now if you are wondering what this story has to do with estate planning, it’s this part involving Nicole and the horse. You see, we had taken someone else’s child six hundred miles away from home and we didn’t have a plan to deal with medical emergencies. The worst part is it could have been taken care of with a simple document, a minor’s medical power of attorney.
When my wife and I go away and leave our children with grandma, we leave a minor’s medical POA, just in case of situations like Nicole’s. We also leave copies of the insurance cards and the name of our pediatrician. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to prepare the POA for Nicole and get copies of her parent’s insurance cards.
If you are a regular reader, you know that estate planning is more than just getting your stuff to your loved ones. A complete estate plan will include documents like advance medical directives and powers of attorney. Documents that are designed to assist during your lifetime and in case of emergencies just like the one that occurred on our trip. Fortunately, it worked out but it just as easily could have required Nicole’s parents to make a trip to the mountains. Boy I’m glad I didn’t have to make that call.
Folks, it’s easier to avoid a problem than to solve it later. This is especially true when dealing with minors. A little planning goes a long way.
I think the moral of the story is if you are leaving your minors with someone else, make sure that you have a plan to deal with emergencies. It’s not rocket science, just good common sense.
Christopher W. Yugo is an Attorney in Crown Point Indiana. Chris’ Estate Planning Article will appear every Sunday in the Times. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, Indiana 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.