What Legal Documents Should Seniors Have?
Aging is a natural part of life, and there comes a time when seniors require more help. Whether they become injured, ill, or develop dementia, they may need someone to assist with decision making and ensure their affairs are in order. This can be a challenging time for families, but advanced planning can make the process run more smoothly.
There are a variety of essential documents that seniors should put in place while they are still of sound mind and able to make decisions for themselves. Make sure that documents are all together in a secure location where a trusted family member or friend can access them if need be. Here are a few tips to get started:
Work with a financial advisor to get banking and bill pay in order. Make a list of recurring bills, when they are paid, and how. Write down bank account numbers, credit card information, any debts or liabilities, any investments like stocks or bonds, and any sources of income. Check with the bank about how to designate someone else permission to access financial accounts to pay bills. Seniors may also want designated a durable financial power of attorney.
Compile important financial documents such as:
- Deeds to any homes
- Title and registration for any vehicles
- Insurance policies
- Most recent income tax return
Decisions regarding healthcare can be stressful if family members are unsure what their loved ones would want. Seniors should let their wishes be known before they become incapacitated. Some documents to help include:
- Advanced Directive: This document outlines what type of care the person wants to receive, including ventilators, feeding tubes, or resuscitation.
- Durable Power of Attorney: This designates the person who will make medical decisions on the senior’s behalf should they be unable to make those decisions for themselves.
- Release of Information: This gives healthcare providers or organizations permission to share healthcare information with approved individuals.
- Insurance Information: Make copies of any health insurance cards and policies, as well as long-term care insurance.
- Emergency Information: Write down the names and contact numbers of any healthcare providers, the dates of any surgeries or procedures that were performed, details about any medical conditions, and an updated list of all medications taken.
Other Important Documents
There are a few other documents to keep in mind as well:
- Revocable Trust: Seniors decide who will receive what property or assets and when. Once they pass, having this document in place avoids a lengthy probate process and keeps decisions private rather than part of public record.
- Will: This form details exactly how the senior’s assets should be handled, and who should care for any dependents.
- End-of-Life Planning: Seniors may want to outline instructions for what happens once they pass away and what type of memorial they would like. Some people pay in advance for funeral arrangements or burial plots.
- Legal Records: Compile copies of birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, military records, etc.
The more prepared and organized seniors and their families are, the easier it can make things during emergency situations or end-of-life care. These situations can be difficult to think about or discuss, but having these conversations and putting legal documents in place is vital. Don’t forget to inform any caregivers about important information they should know about advanced directives and emergency contacts as well.
Learn more about how non-medical in-home care can fit into your loved one’s plans and enhance their quality of life. Schedule a free consultation by contacting Always Best Care Clinton Township at (586)203-2157.