Long-term and end of life planning is even less popular than the idea of getting older, but it is an integral part of healthy aging. How else will you ensure that your family respects your personal decisions about how you want your finances or healthcare to be managed if you are in no position to make your wishes known when you need care?
Read through our checklist on end of life and financial planning for the elderly to see some of the documents you should have on hand, then check out this article by A Place for Mom to see how you can safely gather and store all of your important documents at your home or retirement community.
- A list of all your bank accounts with necessary details
- Pension documents, 401(k) information, and annuity contracts
- Tax returns
- Savings bonds, stock certificates or brokerage accounts
- Partnership and corporate operating agreements
- Deeds to any property
- Vehicle title if you still own a car
- Documentation of any loans or debts—this includes credit card and other credit accounts
- Financial Power of Attorney (also called a financial proxy)
Senior Healthcare Documents
- Living will or advanced directive
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Authorization to release healthcare information
- Personal medical history
- Insurance card (Medicare, Medicaid, Private)
- Long-term care insurance policy
End of Life Documents
- Will (this is not the same document as your living will)
- Trust documents
- Life-insurance policies
- End of life instructions letter (that explains how to manage funeral arrangements or other matters not covered in the will)
- Organ donor card
Financial Power of Attorney
The laws governing financial power of attorney (a document which grants a chosen individual or group of individuals with the power to manage your funds when you are incapacitated) changed in Ohio last year. If you went through a financial planning session before March 22, 2012, you may want to look over your financial power of attorney once more.
In an effort to prevent agents from abusing the power they can wield over their charges, legislation has been passed that restricts the general powers given to an agent.
As most older adults intend for a power of attorney agent to handle their day-to-day affairs, and not their estate plan, the legislative changes now prohibit agents from updating wills or other longstanding financial documents unless this power is specifically given to them as part of the power of attorney specifically authorizes them.
According to the Ohio Bar Association, a living will is a legal document that:
- becomes effective only when you cannot communicate your wishes and are permanently unconscious or terminally ill;
- advises your doctor as to whether life-support technology is to be used or not used;
- gives doctors the direction or instructions about the medical treatment you want under these conditions;
- can be changed or revoked by you at any time, but cannot be changed or revoked by anyone else;
- specifies under what conditions you would want artificial feeding and fluids to be withheld.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A healthcare power of attorney is similar to a living will in that it will determine the care you receive when you are not able to speak for yourself. However, it differs in a few key ways:
- Rather than explicitly stating the kind of care you want to receive, a power of attorney entrusts a friend or family member with the ability to make decisions about your healthcare at any time you cannot do so for yourself.
- Like the living will, a power of attorney becomes effective when you cannot make your own decisions regarding treatment; however, it does not require you to be comatose or unresponsive before the document becomes active.
- A power of attorney will not overrule a living will if you have one as well as a power of attorney since the document requires the person you entrust with power of attorney to make decisions that are consistent with your wishes.