Elder Care Documents – A Must Have Checklist


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Do you have your elder care documents in line? When it comes to caring for elders in your life, or your partner, the last thing you want to navigate in a time of crisis or health decline is a legal or financial mess. Many people do not feel they have the kind of financial or life situation that demands nitty gritty documents that funnel their assets to others or navigate financial or health legalities. Yet, executing even simple tasks, like talking to your parents’ utility or filing for basic benefits, requires very specific documents to be in place.

When a loved one is ill or declining, all you will want to focus on is them and your own self-care, not the challenging world of family account planning.

Being Proactive is Key

Elders’ care needs can change rapidly, which may require you to move fast and have all necessary documents ready. There are various situations that require legal and financial elder care documents, and these situations often tend to be unexpected. That is why being prepared is critical. By proactively finding, organizing, and storing crucial paperwork, you can prevent added stress and time when an incident arises with their aging loved one or partner.

Essential Legal and Financial Documents

You will need to know if certain legal documents exist to make financial or healthcare decisions on behalf of your loved one. If they do not exist, navigating next steps become far more complex during an already challenging time.

There are a handful of primary and essential planning documents, related to both elder care and their own personal planning, which are must haves for all families:

  • HIPAA Release Form
  • Health Care Proxy (Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare)
  • Living Will (Advance Directive)
  • Portable medical order (POLST)
  • Will/Trust
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

In addition to these essential documents, you should know the location of the following  while caring for your loved one:

  • Summary of personal medical history
  • Insurance card
  • Long-term care insurance policy
  • Emergency information sheet
  • Letter of Last Instruction
  • List of bank accounts
  • Pension documents, 401(k) information, annuity contracts
  • Savings bonds, stock certificates, brokerage accounts
  • Deeds to property
  • Vehicle title
  • Loan documents
  • Credit accounts
  • List of safe deposit boxes and the location of their keys

Ideally, you should know whether these exist, where they are stored, and the names of the individuals appointed as agents for healthcare and legal decisions.

Storing Elder Care Documents Safe and Easy Access

Having easy access to these legal documents for your elder is important. Experts recommend that you store important documents in a master folder or box. Keep this in a safe place, like a fire-proof safe.

Going paperless is another option for having easy access to legal documents which you then can share in a secure manner with others as appropriate. Do note, a digital copy will not always work, as you must present some documents in physical form.

Easing an Already Challenging Time

These documents can save both elderly loved ones and their children the burden of added stress during a difficult time. Without these documents, families can move into unnecessary legal and financial chaos.

There are many elder focused resources that can provide additional resources, such as AARP. Yet, when it comes to end-of-life and estate planning, always consult with a specialized elder care attorney to help ensure everything is thoroughly done within the parameter of the state in which they live.

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Hi All, I’m Rebecca! I’ve worked in marketing strategy in the healthcare and wellness industry since college and my MBA for 20+ years (yikes!!). I’m blessed to have combined my geeky professional self with my passions: awareness of and mental health supports for disenfranchised populations and communities. I volunteer in educating the greater community about the real experiences of those in (and out of) recovery from the disease of addiction. I was so honored to give a TED talk in 2019 about removing stigma and shame by simply shifting the language we use, as this is near and dear me. Yet, at the end of the day, my family is everything in my world. I live with my husband Mike and two teenage sons in Lee, along with a crazy cattle dog (Maggie), cat (Leia), fish, 100 snails and soon to be chickens. While a Jersey shore girl at heart, living in MA and NH since the late 90s has fully converted me to a New England sports fan and avid skier, hiker and kayaker. I guess I’m a perfectly imperfect, harmonious, and happy runner, who cares deeply for humans, and Mother Nature. Follow me on Instagram @mommabear5786 to see what life in a house of boys, recovery, loud music, a bit of attitude, and nature looks like!