Packing for Your Vacation 101

 In Wills and Estates Law

Deciding what to bring on vacation is almost as challenging as trying to pack it all in one tiny bag or two. To really experience the awe and enjoyment of a lengthy vacation, as well as having your affairs in working order upon your return, it’s important to consider all aspects of your life and how your travel will affect them. So the next time you’re packing for your vacation, consult this list of things people don’t always think of to make this your best vacation ever.

Review Will and Powers of Attorney (POA) Well in Advance of Travel

Wills are typically drafted for the status of your affairs at that time with an eye to the future. Reviewing your will helps to ensure that the will reflects your current situation and it still conforms to your estate plan. Depending on changes to your assets, it may be wise to consider double wills for significant valuable personal effects.

Reviewing your Powers of Attorney will allow you to confirm the individuals you’ve appointed are still able to act (i.e. still alive and not in an unreasonable geographic location). Most importantly, for those travelling with their primary attorney (i.e. their spouse), an alternate should be appointed, and the alternate should not be someone travelling with them, as most spouses nominate each other and travel together.

For both the will and Powers of Attorney, we recommend letting the individuals you’ve appointed know where those documents can be found should they be required.

Consider Limited or Specific Purpose POA

Is your house for sale or lease? Are there any investments that will mature and require instructions?

A Limited or Specific Purpose Power of Attorney is a document that allows an individual you appoint to make financial, legal, business, and real estate decisions on your behalf while you are away. If you are travelling for an extended period of time, name someone who you trust to pay your bills, handle your business, and collect any rent on your behalf. If there is a possibility that your trip may be extended, or you may face delays in your return, an attorney will be able to make sure that you don’t come home to unpaid bills and uncashed checks.

Another consideration may be a separate Power of Attorney for Personal Care for the jurisdiction in which you are staying in case the Ontario Power of Attorney is not recognized.

Copy Passports, Credit Cards, Etc. 

Don’t forget to make copies of the first page of your passport, the front and back of your credit cards, and details about any medicines you need to take on a regular basis. If you have photocopies of your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance information, and other important travel documents, it will be easier to replace the originals should the need arise. With a copy of your passport, for example, you can go to the nearest embassy and have that document reissued much more quickly.

With printed copies, store them in your carry-on (not your checked luggage as that could go missing). For electronic copies, make sure you have access to them when you leave (on your mobile device, or in your e-mail, for example). You could also leave copies of your passport(s) with your will and/or Powers of Attorney.

Check on Requirements of Your Insurance Company to Maintain House Insurance

Going away for less than 30 days? Most companies don’t require that you call to notify them. However, you should arrange for somebody to check inside your house every few days to confirm that everything is okay. For example, if a toilet starts leaking or a pipe bursts in winter, you may have water damage going on for days unnoticed, and that could impact your ability to claim for damages.

From an insurance point of view, your home is considered to be “unoccupied” when you are going to be away for more than 30 days but you do plan to return to it. In these situations, it is a good idea to contact your insurance company to see if you need to get a special permit to protect your home while it is unoccupied for this length of time.

Are You Travelling with Children

Do you need a travel letter? If you are travelling with a child and you are not their primary guardian, or you share joint custody with another parent, you will need proof that you are allowed to travel with that child. This is especially important for international travel. A properly executed Child Travel Consent letter can be used to prove that you are permitted to travel with the minor in your care.  Please see this earlier blog post by Kate Wright for further information.

Long Term Stays

Do you have evidence of your intention to return to Canada? It is a good idea to be able to show a copy of the deed to your house, a copy of a tax bill, utility bill etc., or your return ticket.

Bon voyage!

This blog post was written by Diana Tebby, a member of the Real Estate and Wills and Estates teams.  She can be reached at 613-369-0384 or at

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