One of the most effective ways to save time, stress, and money is to get a handle on your legal, financial, and healthcare paperwork. Having your core documents completed and stored in a consolidated place can be a life saver in an emergency and bring peace of mind in the everyday. While the stack of papers may seem daunting, it is likely the decisions behind them that cause us to put them off. Unfortunately, because of this procrastination many families are unprepared when they are thrown into the healthcare maze by a parent’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s or a hospitalization due to a fall.
As baby boomers we find ourselves in a unique position to think about our own future even as we are helping our parents think about theirs. So how do we “get it together”? We can empower ourselves and our loved ones by jointly making a commitment to understand and complete the following documents together:
Durable Power of Attorney:
Who would speak for you if you were unable to advocate for yourself? This document grants decision-making authority to another person or persons. It may cover health/medical decisions only, financial decisions only or both. While a regular power of attorney is usually short-term and stops if the person becomes confused or demented, a durable power of attorney extends through the person’s life even if they are incapacitated.
Washington State POLST Form:
What quality of life do I want for myself? This document identifies your wish for life-sustaining treatment when you are in a permanent unconscious condition, in a vegetative state, or in an irreversible coma.
Who would need access to what in an emergency? From iPhones to email to online banking, our lives are scattered with important passwords. Keeping current documentation of your passwords can be crucial for family members to assist with bill paying, benefits, etc. during an emergency.
Healthcare/ Personal Information :
What identifying information would I normally give myself when seeking medical treatment? It can be difficult to recall important information during an emergency when you are needed to make important decisions. Document your Name, Date of Birth, Social Security, Blood Type, Allergies, and any medications. Also keep a copy of an insurance card, Medicare card, and driver’s license. This will expedite everything from checking in at the doctor’s office to dealing with an emergency.
Digital Documents: USB Flash Drive
Regardless of whether or not your loved one uses a computer, placing digital copies of this information on a flash drive can be helpful to use in an emergency situation. Consider taking this during travel as well in the event of an emergency when you may not have access to original copies of your documents.
Remember to Change & Review Your Documents when any of the 5 D’s occur:
1. Every new Decade of your life
2. After the Death of a loved one
3. After a Divorce
4. After any significant Diagnosis
5. After any significant Decline in functioning
Notify medical providers, hospitals, attorneys, individuals in writing that you are voiding the old document, destroy old copies, and circulate new ones.
CLICK HERE for further templates and checklist from wonderful sight that is a great starting point from Chanel Reynolds.
Published on September 27, 2013.