A year ago my husband’s family began the complicated and emotionally fraught task of finding appropriate care for their terminally ill father. After his death, they were faced with a host of decisions of how to arrange finances to ensure the best care for his mother. Fortunately, many of these decisions were made easier because his parents had both a living will (for health care directives) and a will.
But during this process we also discovered that there were many holes in the plans that his parents had drawn up.
So even if you already have a living will, advanced health care directives and/or willsin place, it is always a good idea to review these documents, look for any inadequacies and update as needed. Discuss your plans with your children to seek their input and make sure they understand your plans.
It’s not enough to make your wishes known to family members. If you do not put them in writing, you and your family could be at the mercy of what medical providers deem necessary and an already difficult situation will be made much more painful for everyone. This article will give you good pointers on how (and why) to get started on a Living Will.
Go With a Pro
Many would have us believe that we can do
everything online—from making a will to investing for retirement. For a lot of things, this may be true. But there are some things that simply should not be done without professional advice. If you have minor children, assets from a previous marriage, numerous or complex investments and assets, you should not rely on a fill-in-the-blank will. Consult a legal expert to ensure you are not overlooking anything important.
should keep on hand. Everyone in the family should know how to access this information in an emergency.
Start the school year off right
As your children start another school year or you send older children off to college, it is also a good idea to review medical and insurance records. Ensure that your information is up to date and older children know how to access this information if needed.
Start with financial records
Tax time is just around the corner, so don’t delay compiling records of all your finances. This should include banking, savings, loans and investment accounts, insurance and property records. You should also have an inventory of important or valuable personal belongings. Both the Red Cross and FEMA have a lot of good information on disasters and financial planning.
I really encourage you to download and read the Red Cross’ booklet Disasters and Financial Planning. It is filled with excellent information.
Another invaluable resource is FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit.
Don’t delay putting your financial and medical affairs in order. Give your family the peace of mind that comes with proper planning and communicate those plans to family members.
Records to have on hand:
Numbers and contact information for: Bank accounts, Insurance policies, Health Savings Accounts, Investment and retirement accounts, credit cards
Loans, leases and mortgages
Copies of tax returns for the past 7 years
Medical history, name and contact information for all family doctors
Power of Attorney, Will and Living Will
User name and Passwords for any accounts you manage online
Copies of birth certificates, Social Security cards, other important identification