Plan for the Future
No one ever plans to be sick or disabled. Yet, it’s this kind of planning that can make all the difference in an emergency. Long before she fell, Louise put all her important papers in one place and told her
son where to find them. She gave him the name of her lawyer, as well as a list of people he could contact at her bank, doctor’s office, insurance company, and investment firm. She made sure he had copies of her Medicare and other health insurance cards. She added her son’s name to her checking account and safe deposit box at the bank. Louise made sure Medicare and her doctor had written permission to talk with her son about her health and insurance claims.
On the other hand, Ben always took care of family money matters, and he never talked about the details with Shirley. No one but Ben knew that his life insurance policy was in a box in the closet or that the car title and deed to the house were filed in his desk drawer. Ben never expected that his wife would have to take over. His lack of planning has made a tough job even tougher for Shirley.
What Exactly Is an “Important Paper”?
The answer to this question may be different for every family. Remember, this is a starting place. You may have other information to add. For example, if you have a pet, you will want to include the name and address of your veterinarian. Include complete information about:
Steps for Getting Your Affairs in Order
There are many different types of legal documents that can help you plan how your affairs will be handled in the future. Many of these documents have names that sound
alike, so make sure you are getting the documents you want. Also, State laws vary, so find out about the rules, requirements, and forms used in your State.
Wills and trusts let you name the person you want your money and property to go to after you die.
Advance directives let you make arrangements for your care if you become sick. Two common types of advance directives are:
Help for Getting Your Papers in Order
You may want to talk with a lawyer about setting up a general power of attorney, durable power of attorney, joint account, trust, or advance directive. Be sure to ask about the lawyer’s fees before you make an appointment.
You should be able to find a directory of local lawyers on the internet or at your local library, or you can contact your local bar association for lawyers in your area. Your local bar association can also help you find what free legal aid options your State has to offer. An informed family member may be able to help you manage some of these issues.