When faced with an emergency situation, do you know where to locate your elderly relatives’ health insurance cards, or health proxy or DNR paperwork? If there is a death in the family do you know where to find life insurance papers? Your parent’s will? Have you discussed funeral arrangements? If your elderly relative is incapacitated have arrangements been made that will allow family members to access bank accounts or other critical financial information or to make healthcare decisions on his or her behalf?
Here is a checklist of important papers that your family may need in the event of a crisis (and you should be aware of their location prior to an emergency). Once you have located these papers, make certain they are in a central, easy to find location and that the family knows where to find them. It may make sense to make copies of these documents so that all family members have access.
Here is information you will need from both of your parents:
- Full names (Mother’s maiden name)
- Social Security Numbers (location of Social Security Cards)
- City of their birth
- Date of birth (location of birth certificate)
- Marriage date and marriage certificates
- If one of them is deceased you will need death certificates
- Information on any military service including branch, dates served
These are documents you will want to have stored in a secure location. Make certain you know where they’re stored:
- The will (if your relatives do not have a will, it is crucial that one is prepared)
- Power of Attorney
- Healthcare proxy
- Insurance policies including: life, health, homeowner’s, automobile, etc.
- List of checking and savings accounts
- List of credit cards
- List of monthly obligations including: credit card bills, utility bills, subscriptions, etc.
- Retirement papers
- Information on monthly income including: Social Security benefits, Medicare/Medicaid information, Veteran’s benefits, etc.
- Mortgage papers/lien releases
- Title to vehicles
- The names of physicians, insurance agents, attorneys, etc.
- Funeral arrangements if they’ve been made
There will likely be more information and paperwork that your relatives have accumulated over the years that will be necessary for family members to have access to. Be advised that gathering this information could be a lengthy process and could also cause stress because it’s making both you and your other family members face their own mortality. The care you take now, though, when not operating in crisis mode will assure that any final wishes are carried out and will also help you when dealing with end of life financial issues.