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Organizing Finances

Finances may not be your favorite topic, but at some point, it is something that almost everyone must address with their older loved ones. Quite honestly, it’s one of those topics that is better addressed sooner than later.

If you collect nothing else, the following documents are important to have access to (and to draft up if your loved one hasn’t yet):

  • A Power of Attorney Form. This allows you to step in and care for their finances should that become a necessity

  • A Health Care Proxy. This enables you to make critical medical decisions in the event that they cannot do it for themselves.

  • A Will. Even if there are verbal agreements for assets, a legally drawnup will is essential to ensure that the estate distribution runs smoothly.

These important documents should not be kept in a safe deposit box in a bank but in a fire-proof safe in the home. Unless you are listed on their safe deposit box, you will not be able to gain access without these forms. Making sure that these specific documents are lined up well ahead of time will ensure that you do not have to make a contentious trip to court to have them drafted. Should you be in a position where a court trip is necessary, hire an experienced elder law attorney as you will need to prove medical and/or physical incompetence, as well as the possibility of a judgment that your senior will require additional financial oversight over your own expenditures. An elder law attorney is uniquely qualified to guide you through this process.

Items that should be kept in a Fire-Proof Lock Box This is a good list to collect for yourself in your home as well.

  • Will (including name, firm name, location, contact information of attorney)

  • Labeled keys

  • Lock combinations

  • Deeds; titles of registration for land, condo, home, vehicle(s)

  • Social Security card

  • Education and military records

  • Marriage license

  • Divorce decree

  • IOUs, private loan agreements

  • Stock certificates, bonds

  • Information about any pre-purchased funeral service, cemetery plot, and funeral requests

  • Computer login and passwords for all online accounts, including PayPal and other money transfer services; checking and savings; department stores and national credit card companies; and social media

  • Account numbers for all credit cards

  • Locations of living will and other legal documents

  • The last three years of federal and state tax returns (Save seven years if the person in your care has filed a claim for worthless securities or taken an unpaid debt deduction.

Content Credit: ClearCare

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