April 2021 - A Caregiver's Checklist for Peace of Mind
Caring for aging or ill family members can be difficult. One thing you as primary caregiver can do to make things a little easier for both you and your loved ones is to see that they have the necessary documentation in place to ensure their wishes are carried out. Following is a checklist of the basic documentation you should have.
A Will – This document details how your loved ones want their assets distributed and who they want to administer their estate when the time comes. It assures that your loved ones’ wishes are carried out and helps prevent disagreements among surviving beneficiaries.
Durable Powers of Attorney (POAs) – There are healthcare powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney. A healthcare POA lets you make medical decisions on behalf of loved ones when they are unable to do so for themselves, while a financial POA gives you authority to conduct financial transactions such as paying bills and managing accounts on their behalf, so they do not fall behind on their financial obligations.
Living Will – This outlines the type and extent of care your loved ones wish to receive if they become seriously ill. Together with the healthcare POA mentioned above, these two documents are often referred to as an advanced directive and give healthcare professionals insight into your loved ones’ wishes when they are unable to communicate those wishes for themselves.
In addition to making sure the above-mentioned documents are updated and witnessed and notarized as required, it is helpful to have your loved ones’ important paperwork organized and stored in a safe place easily accessible by you when needed. Examples of this paperwork include:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage license/divorce decree
- Deeds to properties
- Mortgages or rental contracts
- Insurance policies
- Pension benefits
- Death certificates of spouse/parents/children
- Citizenship papers
- Military discharge papers
Caregiving goes beyond meeting the physical needs of loved ones. Making sure their affairs are in order gives them peace of mind and helps ease your stress over managing their estate when the time comes.