By Steven A. Buttice, Living By Your Design, Inc.
Roses and a nice dinner out is a great way of showing your love for your spouse this Valentine’s Day. If you want to give a lasting gift of love for your spouse and family, use this day to set up a time with an expert to review and make legal your future plans. Why?
Last month, we had a spouse and adult children stop in our office. Dad, age 78, has a serious health problem and the family was making tough decisions, but first had to locate “hidden” bank/investment, legal, insurance documents, and even investigate the suspected existence of a lock box. All of this detective work is being done with no background or knowledge of what even needs to be found at such an emotional time. This could have been avoided and the family could have spent that time where it should be spent — with their loved one. The question becomes: is it easier to deal with our own mortality and have a better opportunity to have the future more organized and flowing for you and your family, or not dealing with the fact that some day we may get sick, have an accident, or die?
So where to begin? Gather all of the following materials:
Legal documentation, name, and contact information of your attorney, wills, powers of attorney (healthcare and financial — durable), trusts, and business contracts if any.
Financial documentation, including all bank account information, bank statements (best to keep these for 5 years); investment statements and contacts; home deeds, titles of cars, vacation homes, etc; credit card information and statements, burial plots/prepaid funeral, insurance policies including health, life, auto, homeowners, any other insurance such as long term care or cancer, and agent contacts; the last Social Security statement, SS numbers, and Medicare number. If there is a veteran in the family, gather the discharge papers (DD214).
Medical information listing primary care doctor, specialists, pharmacy(s), preferred hospital, medical conditions, and your medication list.
Lifestyle information listing church membership/affiliation, any meaningful clubs, future medical thoughts on homecare, assisted living, or nursing homes.
Miscellaneous information including contact information for current/past employers (there may be insurance or pension issues arise), home maintenance/repair people used/contracts, warranty information, auto mechanic, computer tech if used, a list of close friends, addresses, and phone numbers. Let all members of your family know where this list is kept, or give them a copy.
Of course, this information will change and build over time. Young children will grow into adults and marry, grandkids may be born, business opportunity changes. This information then becomes a living file. All aspects of the legal, financial, medical, lifestyle, and miscellanea should be reviewed at least every five years or upon a substantial change such as a birth, death, divorce, etc. Your plan should encompass all the subjects mentioned above. Also, know that helping a parent with this planning now will make their wants and needs more clear and accessible in the future.
So, do you want to give a lasting Valentine’s Day gift showing your love? Set a plan and gather this information and see a professional(s) to help you plan. See your attorney to confirm all legal documentation is up to date per your wants and needs. Carry a list of medical conditions and medications with you, e.g. blood thinning medications. Consider a medical alert band. Then hold a family meeting to talk freely about a “Plan of Love” for your Valentine and family.
In case of a 911 call, would you want your door broken down where EMTs could enter your home to assist you in case of emergency?
There may be a way of preventing such an action, feel free to contact us for more information on this or any other subject above.
For more information, contact Living By Your Design, Inc., focusing on the issues of older Americans: legal, financial, free guidance for residential placement and healthcare issues. Call: 309-285-8088. Website: www.LivingByYourDesignInc.com. Location: 809 W. Detweiller Dr., Peoria.