What is something were to happen to you? Would someone be able to carry on for you while you were ill and recovering? What if you were to die unexpectedly? Is there at least one other person who knows where to find “all the important stuff”?
Whenever I talk with a client about planning ahead, I talk to them about more than just drafting legal documents. Yes, a Will and Powers of Attorney are absolutely essential, but you also need to be sure that whoever will take over for you (whether it is temporary- while you are recovering / permanent – they are the executor of your will).
So, let’s talk about exactly how to accomplish this task which sounds super easy but can become overwhelming when you actually begin to do it. But, not to worry! I am going to give you some ideas of how to accomplish this without stressing out about it.
First of all, let’s talk technology. The good news is, it can help make this easier. The better news is, you don’t have to use any if you don’t want to. That’s right! You can accomplish this with a good ole pencil and paper! And there are also attractive diary-type books available. Currently, CVS carries one called “Life and Care Directory” by the Plan Ahead company. It is an attractive little book that has the various categories that you can simply fill in by hand.
If you decide to go with technology, there are a variety of apps available that can help you. However, guard against using something that may become outdated or that you or your loved one may get locked out of. If you use an app, make sure there is a way to have a backup (preferably a paper, Word, or Excel document).
Here are the categories of information you are going to need. Remember, you want this to be valuable whether you are disabled or deceased. The GOAL is to have someone be able to step into your shoes and take ACTION, rather than having to take valuable time trying to figure out what to do.
- Medical information- Your current medical information including your doctors, prescriptions, allergies and insurance information should be available and should be updated regularly. Check out the File of Life website for help with this.
- Information about your minor children or other persons who depend on you completely (such as an elderly person or a person who has a disability). You should have a folder for their medical information, doctors, bills to be paid on their behalf; (for minor children- a copy of their birth certificate/ court orders if any; for elderly parents or other person with a disability- documents that show your authority and what services you regularly provide for them)
- Information about your pets/ livestock. If animals are depending on you, make sure that you have backup in case you can’t care for them, and instructions on what to do, feeding information and veterinary information.
- Mortgage Payment, Utilities, Insurance Premiums. Don’t let these lapse, ever! Even if someone has a valid power of attorney allowing them to access your accounts and pay your bills, they have to know where things are located and who to pay and when to do it, or the document is not helpful.
- Other bills – Secondary bills should also be considered.
- Insurance policies- Life insurance, homeowner’s insurance, health insurance. Where are the policies? When are the premiums due?
- Titles and Deeds – Documents showing ownership of your home, auto, etc.
- Documents regarding your Business or Employment – If you own your own business, the paperwork for your corporation or partnership. Other documents and information that keep the business going from day-to-day. If you have your own business, you really, really need to have powers of attorney in place.
- Last Will and Testament, Powers of Attorney, Instructions Regarding Funeral Arrangements. For our clients, you will have this all in your folder that we provided to you after you signed them. Always know where these copies are and make sure that they are accessible if you are not available.
- Information and keys to any properties you own or are in charge of. If you are a landlord, make sure that your stand-in knows how and when to collect rent and has a list of any tenants with their contact information, as well as a list of any workers who help around the properties.
- You can add a handwritten or typed letter. Feel free to add additional instructions to make things easier, thanks and encouragement for your loved one/ agent, and any thing else that will put your own mind at ease.
Need additional help with planning? Come see us for a consultation and we will help you plan for your future.
Kalish Law Office – Since 1984- “Passionate, Professional and Personal. We Make the Difference.”