As a family caregiver, one of your crucial responsibilities is to ensure that your loved one’s legal and financial matters are well-organized and accessible.
This comprehensive checklist will guide you through the essential legal and financial documents you may need to find and have on while providing care. Being prepared in these areas will not only help you provide better care but also safeguard your loved one’s interests.
- Wills: Locate and review your loved one’s last will and testament. Ensure that it is up-to-date and accurately reflects their wishes for asset distribution.
- Power of Attorney (POA): Find the durable power of attorney document, which grants you the authority to make financial and legal decisions on your loved one’s behalf if they become unable to do so themselves.
- Healthcare Proxy: Locate the healthcare proxy form, which designates someone to make medical decisions in line with your loved one’s preferences.
- Living Will: Identify the living will, which outlines your loved one’s end-of-life medical wishes, including decisions on life support and organ donation.
- Guardianship Papers: If applicable, gather the legal documentation related to guardianship, allowing you to legally act in your loved one’s best interests if they cannot make decisions or manage their affairs.
- Bank Accounts: Make a list of all bank accounts, including checking, savings, and any certificates of deposit (CDs). Gather account numbers and contact information for each financial institution.
- Investment Accounts: Locate documents related to investment accounts, such as brokerage statements, stock certificates, and information on retirement accounts (e.g., 401(k), IRAs).
- Property Records: Gather property deeds, mortgage documents, and any records related to real estate or other valuable assets.
- Insurance Policies: Find and organize insurance policies, including health, life, long-term care, and property insurance. Ensure that you have contact information for insurance agents.
- Tax Records: Collect recent tax returns and any relevant tax documents, such as receipts for deductible medical expenses.
- Pension and Social Security Information: If applicable, obtain pension plan information and Social Security benefit statements.
Legal and Financial Contacts:
- Legal Advisor: Make a note of your loved one’s legal advisor or attorney’s contact information, as well as any other professionals, such as estate planners or elder law attorneys.
- Financial Advisor: If your loved one has a financial advisor, record their contact details.
- Online Account Information: Keep a list of online account usernames and passwords for financial accounts, social media, and email, if applicable. Ensure that this information is kept securely.
- Digital Backup: Consider scanning and storing digital copies of important documents on a secure external drive or cloud storage for easy access.
By diligently gathering and organizing these essential legal and financial documents, you’ll be better equipped to provide the necessary care for your loved one while ensuring their legal and financial affairs are in order.