Dementia and Alzheimer’s rarely bestow gifts, but one silver lining is that a family often has time to help their loved one plan for their care and final wishes. This includes creating, reviewing and revising important documents, like their:
- Durable power of attorney
- Health care power of attorney
- Living will
Do You Know Where These Documents Are?
The creation of these documents is only a first step. It is also important that close family members – especially those named in the documents as trustees, agents, and beneficiaries – actually know where these documents are.
This may not be as easy as it sounds. If your loved one created their documents many years ago, they may have stuffed them in an attic or a safe deposit box. Worse, they themselves may not remember where these documents are. Also, if it comes time to move your loved one into a memory care facility, it’s easy during these busy times for documents to get lost or misplaced.
There is still no cure for dementia and Alzheimer’s, which means that at some point in the future your loved one is likely to become incapacitated. If no one can find their durable power of attorney or health care power of attorney, their case may have to go to court so that a conservator can be assigned to make decisions on their behalf. This is a long and difficult process and a conservator can never truly know what the incapacitated loved one would really want.
So, if you don’t know where your loved one’s documents are right now, today, find out!
Keep Documents Safe
If your loved one doesn’t have documents and is still in the early stages of dementia, it may be possible for them to legally create these documents. You can find plenty of templates online. You may also want to use the services of an attorney to create documentation tailored to your loved one’s unique situation and preferences.
Once these documents are created, there are important things you can do to make sure they are easy to find:
- Make copies and send them to the family members that are the most involved in caring for your loved one
- Make two copies for yourself. Keep one in your home for fast and easy access and one set in a safe deposit box just in case your home documents get destroyed in a fire, water leak, etc…
- Keep a set on file with your loved one’s attorney if you choose to work with an attorney
- Tell your spouse, children, or siblings where they can find the documents in case you are unavailable or predecease your loved one.
End of Life Documents Aren’t the Only Documents to Consider
While documents like your loved one’s will, durable power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney are extremely important for effective end-of-life planning, they aren’t the only documents you need to make sure you can access. Here is just a short list of other important information and documents you will want to have on your loved one’s behalf:
- Computer passwords
- Bank account information
- Online account passwords and access
- Safe deposit box information and keys
- Real estate documents
- Car title
- Credit card information
- Retirement benefits information
- Business documentation
- Social security information
- Life insurance documents
- Investment account information
- Loan information
You will also need to make sure you have contact information for people who will be affected if your loved one becomes incapacitated or dies. Make sure you identify and have contact information for:
- Your loved one’s attorney
- Financial adviser
- Insurance adviser
- Trust beneficiaries
- Durable power of attorney agent
- Healthcare power of attorney agent
- IRA beneficiaries
- Annuity beneficiaries
- Life insurance beneficiaries
- Anyone named in the will
Sit Down with Your Loved One Today
If you don’t have this information, today is the day to sit down with your loved one and figure out if these documents exist or if they need to be created. Be patient, understanding, and willing to bring other family members in to help you if a lot of legwork is required to track down information. You may also want to contact an attorney to help guide this process.
Have questions about long-term care planning for a family member or friend with dementia or Alzheimer’s? That is exactly what our free monthly support group is for! Our Caring Connection Support Group allows family members of those with dementia to ask questions, get answers, and receive support from others who are tackling the same challenges. Stop by our next meeting!
Categories: Memory Care