Do you or your loved one plan on making the transition to an independent living or assisted living community soon? Before settling into your new independent living apartment, or receiving assisted living services, it is imperative that you do not overlook the important step of getting your affairs in order. 

 As time goes on, you or your loved one may not be able to take care of everything on your own as older adults. This includes medical and financial tasks.

Even as relatively healthy senior, you need to make sure that you have the paperwork needed in case of an emergency. This includes financial records, personal records, medical records, and legal documents. 

If you or your loved one happen to have children, it is even more important that these documents are updated regularly and stored in a safe place so that your family is prepared to handle anything. After all, you would not want to be in a position where you are ill and do not have the ability to plan out everything on your own. In this blog, we will discuss how to get your affairs in order, and which documents you need to keep in mind. 

1. Get organized and put all your documents in one place. 

Do you or your loved one have an array of documents sprawled out around your office? Do you find it difficult to find papers in your filing cabinet or even in your safe? Before you or your loved one become an independent living or assisted living resident, make sure to get organized. If you do not know where your important documents are (or you cannot find your loved one’s), it may be more difficult for others to find them in the future. 

Instead, take the time to organize these documents and put them in a safe place. Also, take a closer look at all of the documents you have. Some may be outdated, or simply nonexistent. As this may be the case for most, take note of documents like these (from The Balance): 

·         Wills (Last will and testament, living will, pour-over will)

·         Advanced medical directive 

·         Power of attorney (for healthcare and finances) 

·         Revocable living trust 

Also, you should keep personal and financial records such as these (from The National Institute on Aging): 

·         Social security information

·         Birth certificate

·         Education and military records 

·         A list of medications taken

·         Sources of your income and assets including your pension, retirement accounts, and interest 

·         Names and phone numbers of family and friends, religious contacts, doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors

·         Insurance information along with policy numbers and agents’ names and phone numbers 

·         Life insurance documents 

·         Name of each bank and account numbers 

·         Investment income along with your stock brokers’ names and phone numbers 

·         A copy of your most recent tax return

·         A description of where each of your legal documents is located

With all of this said, the number of American adults that have a will or another type of estate planning document has decreased by almost 25% since 2017. If you or your loved one are missing any of these, make sure to take the time to fill them out, or contact your estate planning lawyer for more help. 

Also, make sure that you and your loved one establish beneficiary designations when it comes to retirement plans, real estate, and other assets. When looking through these documents, make sure to update them when needed. Documents such as these should not be overlooked or misplaced. 

2. Put someone in charge. 

If you or your loved one have yet to establish important documents such as a power of attorney (in many cases a durable power of attorney) or healthcare proxy, it is time to begin thinking about who you want to make your medical and financial decisions in the future. This should be a friend or family member you trust to take on these responsibilities. If you need help with this decision, make sure to discuss your options with an estate planning lawyer. 

Also, let this person know where all of your documentation lives (whether in a safe, filing cabinet, binder, etc.). It is crucial that they are able to retrieve these documents in case of an emergency. For example, if you or your loved one happen to need a certain level of care at the hospital and you are unable to make your own medical decisions, your healthcare proxy will need to make these decisions on your behalf. 

The same goes for your power of attorney. For example, if you can no longer take care of your own finances in the future, a financial power of attorney will be responsible for your assets and your investments.

3. Discuss your plans further with your doctor 

As mentioned in The National Institute on Aging article, it is important that you or your loved one speak with a doctor to discuss topics such as end-of-life preferences.

Your doctor can help you navigate through possible treatment options and make sure that your preferences are honored. This is also where advanced directives come in. If you are unsure where to begin, make an appointment with your doctor where you can discuss your possible options over the phone and receive any necessary advice. 

4. Begin the conversation early 

Although discussing legal, financial, and medical plans can be difficult, it is important to talk about this early on. Make sure you sit down with specific family members or a friend to express your needs and how you want them to be fulfilled in the future.

If you are the caregiver for a loved one who will be moving to residential care, make sure to consider their needs. After all, you would not want your family to be stuck wondering what to do next if an emergency happens. 

There is more to getting your affairs in order than just what has been mentioned in the blog. Make sure to continue to do your research and speak with your estate planning lawyer or doctor to get specific advice on what will work best for you and your family in the long run. Remember that establishing important legal and financial information ahead of time will help you or your loved one live worry-free as you enjoy the new journey in an independent living community or assisted living community.  

If you have yet to explore the independent living and assisted living options here at Royal Estates of El Paso, make sure to visit our website today. Watch our virtual tour to see the variety of amenities and spacious apartments to choose from.

1. Garber, Julie. “Essential Estate Planning Documents.” The Balancehttps://www.thebalance.com/what-are-the-essential-estate-planning-documents-3505184. Accessed 21 April 2020.

2. “Getting Your Affairs in Order.” National Institute on Aginghttps://www.nia.nih.gov/health/getting-your-affairs-order. Accessed 21 April 2020.

3. “2020 Estate Planning and Wills Study.” Caring.comhttps://www.caring.com/caregivers/estate-planning/wills-survey. Accessed 21 April 2020.

4. Kagan, Julia. “Designated Beneficiary Definition.” Investopediahttps://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/designated-beneficiary.asp. Accessed 21 April 2020.

5. Kagan, Julia. “Power of Attorney Definition.” Investopediahttps://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/powerofattorney.asp. Accessed 21 April 2020.

6. “Health Care Proxies.” Medicare Interactivehttps://www.medicareinteractive.org/get-answers/planning-for-medicare-and-securing-quality-care/preparing-for-future-health-care-needs/health-care-proxies. Accessed 21 April 2020.

7. Kenton, Will. “Financial Power of Attorney Definition.” Investopediahttps://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/financial-power-attorney.asp. Accessed 21 April 2020.

8. “Living Wills and Advance Directives for Medical Decisions.” Mayo Clinichttps://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/living-wills/art-20046303. Accessed 21 April 2020.