Being a family caregiver is rarely just about taking care of the physical needs of an older adult. There is also a paperwork aspect to the role. Caregivers may find themselves taking care of financial matters, coordinating medical care, and helping with end of life matters. These kinds of tasks require that caregivers gather certain pieces of information and have legal documents in order.
Under What Circumstances are Legal Documents Needed?
There are many situations in which you may need to present certain legal documents to help with your older family member’s care. Unfortunately, those situations tend to be ones you’re not expecting. Some situations that may occur are:
- Environmental disasters or other emergencies that force the senior out of their home.
- Applying for state or federal benefits.
- Selling the older adult’s home.
- Illness that makes it impossible for the older adult to make their own medical or financial decisions.
To avoid scrambling to get documents together in an emergency situation, it’s best to get things in order before it becomes necessary.
Financial Documents to Collect
If you are a caregiver in charge of your aging relative’s financial matters, you’ll need to gather certain pieces of information and documents to enable you to perform the necessary tasks. Some items you’ll need are:
- A list of all the senior’s financial accounts.
- Documents pertaining to pension and retirement accounts.
- Recent tax returns.
- Property deeds.
- Vehicle titles.
- Information about all loans and debts.
- You may also need to file for durable financial power of attorney to give you legal permission to handle the senior’s financial matters.
Health-Related Documents That May Be Needed
While your older family member is still able, encourage them to complete a living will that states how they want their care handled if they should become incapable of making their own decisions or expressing their wishes. This can give caregivers great peace of mind knowing they are doing for the older adult what they would request if they could. In addition, caregivers may want to have a durable power of attorney or an advanced health care directive in place so that they can make medical decisions for the older adult in case they cannot.
When caregivers are prepared for emergency ahead of time, it can take a lot of the stress out of the situation. It can also allow caregivers to focus more fully on the older adult instead of spending time trying to organize information or figure out what to do next.