Locating Critical Information

A parent’s unexpected health event could precipitate an immediate need to get your hands on key information and secure valuables. Before something happens, it is a good time to talk to aging parents about what you may need to provide someday. Some parents are hesitant to discuss personal matters, even with their children. For insight on how to approach the subject a suggested book is, “When Your Aging Parent Needs Care” by Candy Arrington. You might be hesitant or think it is an invasion of their privacy, but it might be a necessity to protect your loved ones. You can figure that out on an individual basis, but here are the important things you need to locate:

Medical records – When a health incident occurs, doctors will ask about existing conditions, previous surgeries and current medications. Having an updated list can be crucial.

Health insurance and life insurance information – Find out where your parents keep health insurance information, including any supplemental policies, and locate their cards. Also, look for life insurance policies and make sure the premiums are up-to-date.

Advance directives– Your parent may have a living will, DNR (Do not resuscitate) order, or health care power of attorney (POA), which is different from a general power of attorney. You may want to keep their healthcare POA and DNR readily available.

Financial information– If a parent is suddenly incapacitated, bills still need to be paid. Learn where your parents bank; get their account numbers, online access codes, and debit card PINs. Find out how their bills are paid (checks, auto-draft, paid online). If possible, have your name (or the POA) placed on their bank accounts for the ability to make payments and manage the accounts. It’s important to know not only the location of parents’ investments, the name of the adviser and contact information, but also to be aware of fees, required distributions and withdrawal penalties.

Deeds and titles–Find out the location of deeds to houses and land and titles to cars and recreational vehicles, as there may be an eventual need to liquidate assets.

Safe deposit box – Your loved ones may have a safe deposit box. Learn the location, locate the keys, and ask about the procedure for accessing the box. A parent may have to place your name on file in order for you to gain access. Check with the bank.

Hidden valuables – People often find unique places to hide things of value. If your parents don’t want to divulge the location of their valuables, ask them to make a list and keep it with their wills.

Wills, birth certificates, marriage licenses– Ask your parents about the location of their wills. They may need updating and you can guide them through the process. Dying intestate (without a will) lengthens the probate process and may spark family squabbles. Also, locate birth certificates, marriage licenses and veteran information.

End-of-life decisions – Your loved ones may have already made plans. It’s a hard conversation, but ask your parents about their end-of-life preferences.

IDs and passwords – Avoid the frustration of not being able to access their computer, phones, or necessary accounts. Get an updated list of all identifications and passwords.   From: www.Nextavenue.org 7/14/2017

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