If you are an Alzheimer’s caregiver you may, at some point in time, need to take on the financial and legal responsibilities for your loved one. This means organizing and keeping track of many important documents including; bank statements, income information, tax and medical records, legal power of attorney documents and more. This can be a daunting job to say the least. Below are four tips on how to effectively organize your loved one’s legal documents.
Step 1.-Identify all important documents and assemble the paperwork. Ask your loved one where they store important documents. Are they located in a safety deposit box or a file cabinet in the home? Perhaps the family attorney keeps important legal files in his/her office. The key is to track down all sources of pertinent information such as living wills or power of attorney docs.
Step 2.-Make a check list of all documents needed and then check off the ones that have been located. Here is a list of some of the important documents you may need to locate and have on hand for quick access;
•Income information (such as retirement or social security income)
•Medical insurance information (including Medicare and supplemental insurance policy)
•Banking information (account number, login information for online banking)
•Mortgage information (if homeownership applies)
•List of current and past medications
•Death certificate (for deceased spouse)
•Divorce decree (if applicable)
•Military records (for veteran’s claims)
•Organ donation information
•Durable power of attorney
•Health care power of attorney
•Letter of preferred funeral arrangements (if that’s been established)
•Contact information for attorney or insurance agent/s
•Other insurance policies (life insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance)
•Safety deposit box information including key
Step 3.-After you have gathered all of the important paperwork on the checklist sit down with other family members and review the documents.
Step 4.-Decide where the documents should be stored as a family so everyone knows where to locate important paperwork when needed. Choose a safe and secure place such as a locked file cabinet. Make copies for each person who will be designated as a health care agent. Consider scanning and filing papers on a portable drive so there is a backup in case documents are lost in a fire, theft or another type of unforeseen occurrence.
Organizing paperwork before it is actually needed will help caregivers and other family members to lower the stress associated with making important decisions such as; selling the house, moving your loved one to a more structured living environment and/or taking over the financial concerns for your loved one.
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