One important step in eldercare planning is to gather and organize all of your elder’s legal papers. These papers include their birth certificate, marriage certificate, social security card, passport, and driver’s license, to name a few. They should all be in original condition.
Find your elder’s will and make sure it is up to date. Many times I’ve come across wills that are terribly outdated and leave out family members who should’ve been included. Other times there is no will to be found. This sets in motion an entire set of other, difficult circumstances including higher estate taxes, since the state government takes over the estate. Finding and updating the will now will eliminate these potential future problems.
To facilitate eldercare planning, execute a health care proxy so everyone understands your elder’s health care wishes. Also, a durable power of attorney should be taken care of. This assigns someone, usually a close family member, the right to decide various financial, legal, and medical issues if the elder in question is no longer competent. If necessary, also take care of a “do not resuscitate order,” or DNR, a legal document that does not allow anyone to revive them or take extreme measures if they stop breathing. In addition, have a document drawn up that provides a clear understanding of how they want their medical needs met. Many families engage in heated debates about this, so it’s good for your elder to make their wishes known now.
Most elderly are much more comfortable dealing with death than we are. Legal papers are a way for your elder to tidy up their life. It’s usually the little things that bring them the most joy, such as giving a signed baseball to a favorite grandson. Another step in eldercare planning is to have their funeral arrangements in place ahead of time when possible, including where they want their remains, what type of ceremony they desire, and what they want engraved on their tombstone. Having these legal issues in order gives everyone involved important peace of mind.