Prior statement of intent (advance directive)
States the type of health care they would like to receive when they are no longer able to express their will. It also allows for the designation of an individual to represent them and be able to make decisions about their care. This document helps the family avoid having to make health care decisions during a critical moment and ensures the fulfillment of their wishes, as doctors and hospital institutions are obligated to fulfill them.
Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
Legal document that authorizes a trusted person to make financial decisions on their behalf. The term “durable” means that it will continue to be in effect if the person becomes incapable of managing their own financial matters. A factor to discuss is how to deal with a situation where your family member has legal responsibility over another family member.
Social Security Representative
If your loved one receives Social Security benefits, but is no longer capable of managing their money, it is a good idea for them to name you, or another trusted person, as their representative. The representative is authorized and responsible for managing the benefits to cover food, housing, and other needs. For guidance, you may call 1-800-772-1213 or access www.ssa.gov.
Health Insurance Representative
Due to privacy laws, to be able to manage health insurance on your family member's behalf, you must have their authorization and be named their representative. Get in touch with their health insurance company for details on this process.
Will and Testament
Many think that this only applies to wealthy people. However, in reality, even if you only own a modest property and have a few savings, drafting a will and testament is the best way to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. Otherwise, the State will be the entity in charge of determining who the heirs are and how the property will be divided. Also, if there is no valid will, the legal process is more complex and costly.
Other Important Documents
That you should identify and keep in an easily accessible and safe place:
- Life insurance policies
- Funeral pre-arrangements
- Bank accounts
- Citizenship documents (if applicable)
- Housing and other property deeds, including burial plots
- Birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates of spouse or parents
- Retirement benefits, documentation for military retirement and veteran status (if applicable)