No one likes to consider their eventual demise, but as we age we can put things in place and create a framework to make things easier on ourselves and our loved ones as that time approaches.
Communicate your wishes
Communication is key to expressing your wishes to your loved ones and gives them a chance to express their concerns. Take time to discuss important things such as:
- Wishes for the end of your life care
- Preferences for funeral and memorial arrangements
- Plans for the care of pets
Ask your medical professionals questions so that you understand your current health and what you might expect in the future. Express your wishes to your medical team and obtain the documents necessary to help you make sure that your wishes are known. It is wise to seek the assistance of an elder law attorney to assist with legal documents, including a will and power of attorney.
Documents to help you communicate your wishes may include:
- Wills and trusts - Allow you to choose what will happen to your money and property after your death.
- Advance Directives - Allow you to spell out your wishes for your care and any medical interventions provided if you are unable to make your wishes known.
- Power of Attorney - Allow you to name a person to make decisions for you. Choose someone you trust and who is willing to make these decisions on your behalf. When you die, the power of attorney becomes null and void. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) explains the three types of power of attorney this way:
- A general power of attorney lets you give someone else the authority to act on your behalf, but this power ends if you are unable to make your own decisions.
- A durable power of attorney allows you to name someone to act on your behalf for legal tasks, but stays in place if you become unable to make your own decisions.
- A durable power of attorney for health care lets you name the person you want to make medical decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself.
Getting your Affairs in Order
Gather your important documents in one place. Set up a file or notebook that lists the location of important information and documents. The NIA suggests that you keep copies of important paperwork in a file at home in case they are needed when it is not possible to access a safe deposit box at the bank. It is important to check your documents yearly to see if they need to be updated.
Share the location of your important documents with a trusted family member or friend. If you don’t have a trusted friend or family member, tell your elder law attorney so that someone knows the location of your paperwork.
Sign the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form that allows your medical professionals or attorney to speak with your chosen family member or friend if there are questions about your care, bill or insurance claim. These professionals will be unable to talk to your friend or family member without it.
The NIA suggests the following as Important Papers that you should gather:
- Full legal name
- Social Security number
- Legal residence
- Date and place of birth
- Names and addresses of spouse and children
- Location of birth and death certificates and certificates of marriage, divorce, citizenship, and adoption
- Employers and dates of employment
- Education and military records
- Names and phone numbers of religious contacts
- Memberships in groups and awards received
- Names and phone numbers of close friends, relatives, doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors
- Medications taken regularly (be sure to update this regularly)
- Location of advance directives and other legal documents
- Sources of income and assets (pension from your employer, IRAs, 401(k)s, interest, etc.)
- Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid information
- Insurance information (life, health, long-term care, home, car) with policy numbers and agents' names and phone numbers
- Names of your banks and account numbers (checking, savings, credit union)
- Investment income (stocks, bonds, property) and stockbrokers' names and phone numbers
- Copy of most recent income tax return
- Location of most up-to-date will with an original signature
- Liabilities, including property tax— what is owed, to whom, and when payments are due
- Mortgages and debts—how and when they are paid
- Location of original deed of trust for home
- Car title and registration
- Credit and debit card names and numbers
- Location of safe deposit box and key
Careful thought and preparation on your part can help your wishes to be carried out and what happens after your death easier on everyone you leave behind.
How Care is There can help:
- Provide Daily Money Managers to help your loved one get their financial affairs in order.
- Help you and your loved one discuss plans for the end of their life
- Advocate for your loved one with medical professionals and help them obtain important documents they need
- Help your loved one locate and talk to an elder law attorney
- Help search for Important papers and assist with setting up a filing system.
Contact Care is There today for a free consultation!
Central Virginia: 434.326.5323
Shenandoah Valley: 540.234.0211
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