Gathering and securing essential information, documents, records, and papers in one place is an effective way to ensure everyone involved in caring for seniors, including caregivers, family members, and healthcare providers, are on the same page.
What essential documents and papers should you and your parents sit down to discuss and declutter? What information should they disclose following their retirement?
Let’s explore four essential documents that your parents should have in order.
Getting Affairs in Order: What Important Documents Should Seniors Secure?
4 Essential Documents to Secure for Seniors
Important Personal Information & Documents
Having a handy list of personal documents and information can be incredibly helpful when caring for seniors. Not only do these valuable pieces of information ensure a smooth transition into retirement, but they can also help prevent identity theft – a prevalent issue for seniors who are often targeted by scams and fraud.
Early identification of personal information and documents is critical if you are appointed as the authorized representative or have a power of attorney for managing seniors’ accounts and assets. This identification also helps save time in case of emergencies or unforeseen events.
Here are some important personal documents that your seniors need to have on hand:
- Names, phone numbers, and email addresses of children
- Names, phone numbers, and addresses of relatives, friends, neighbors, doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, power of attorney, caregivers, etc.
- Legal residence
- Date and place of birth
- Social security card
- Passport or state ID card
- Birth certificate
- Driver’s license
- Marriage and divorce records
- Employment records
- Education records
- Military service records
- Guardianship/conservatorship forms
- Group membership cards and received awards
- Regularly taken prescriptions
Important Medical Information & Documents
As a caregiver, one of your top priorities is to keep your parents healthy and help them avoid possible health complications. Regardless of their health status, having advance care directives is better than having none.
In emergencies, this allows family members to make time-sensitive decisions more quickly and coordinate care with doctors more effectively. This ensures that seniors receive timely medical attention and are treated more quickly when necessary.
Here is the list of important medical information and documents to organize for your seniors:
- Medical proxy or power of attorney
- Personal medical record (all health conditions, past diagnosis, allergies, surgeries, family medical background, prescriptions, OTC supplements)
- Portable medical order (POLST)
- HIPAA release
- Insurance policies (life, disability, long-term care)
- Insurance card
- Medicare/Medicaid insurance ID cards and information
- Copies of all payments and co-pay receipts
- Directive to physicians
- Emergency information sheet
- Authorization to release medical information and records
- Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate Order (OOH-DNR)
- Living will or health care directive
- Current lists of taken prescriptions and medications
- Contact information of healthcare providers and physicians
Before securing these files in an accessible location, ask your parents to fill out the information themselves and help them go through them again to ensure they are all correct.
Important Financial Information & Documents
Besides medical records, financial documents play a crucial role in many circumstances. Since financial matters are tied to seniors and no parties have access to them unless they are legally authorized, ask for permission from your parents to gather and sort out financial documents as soon as possible. Alternatively, your parents can engage a trusted financial advisor to help them with this process. It’s a good idea for you and any siblings to be involved in the planning process as well if at all possible.
This much-needed precaution helps seniors and their caregivers avoid legal troubles and delayed interventions when managing finances and assets, especially when they become incapacitated or lose their ability to handle financial affairs independently due to progressive cognitive functions.
Help your parents keep track of these financial documents and information:
- List of all banking information
- Credit and debit cards information
- Tax returns and records
- Pension documents and annuity contracts
- 401K information
- Saving accounts
- Stock accounts and certificates
- A record of liabilities owed by seniors
- Brokerage and securities accounts
- Deeds and title documents to all properties and estates
- Vehicle registration
- All credit accounts and documentation of loans and debts
- Financial power of attorney form
- Business partnership or corporate operating agreement
- Insurance policies (health, life, auto, home, long-term care, etc.)
Important Estate Planning Information & Documents
Estate and end-of-life planning are useful in various situations, mainly when a senior has passed away.
These documents serve as a guide to help surviving family members remain calm during stressful moments so that they can determine what steps they need to take to manage their seniors’ personal belongings, financial assets, properties, investments, liquid cash, and more. Moreover, this type of measure also helps family members avoid inheritance disputes.
Due to the complexities of estate and end-of-life planning, it is favorable to seek professional assistance. A lawyer with years of practice and experience in elder law can help answer questions and suggest the most appropriate strategies to offer financial security after your seniors’ passing.
Some essential end-of-life and estate planning documents to have in place are as follows:
- Trusts documents
- Last will and testament
- Living will or advanced directive
- Funeral and burial requests
- Authorized user designation for financial accounts
- Life insurance policy information
- End-of-life instruction
- A durable power of attorney for finances and healthcare
- Guardian of affairs
If you have questions about elderly care documents or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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