Home for the Holiday’s … Gather Critical Information on Your Aging Parents

Written by Kevin K. Johnson, CSA

Many years ago I was recruited out of my home town of Cleveland, Ohio and for the next 18 years I only saw my parents periodically; holidays, mother’s day, father’s day, etc…  When I called my parents from out-of-town, they always said they were “fine”, “wonderful”, “doing well”. After a few years, when I visited them for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, it became clear to me that they were NOT “fine”, “wonderful”, and “doing well”! I eventually moved back to Cleveland in large part to be available to assist with caregiving requirements for my parents.

At the end of the year I particularly encourage people to take time to gather critical information regarding their aging parents and have it just in case you need it. This information may not be easy to attain. Parents can be very private so you will have to assist them in understanding that all they have to do is gather the relevent information, then keep it in a safe, secure location that either they or you can access in an emergency.

Also, take time to do this for yourself and your family when you get home.

Remember, life happens fast and in unexpected ways!

Here’s a list of some of the typical information your parents will need to have available. This is also good information for you and your immediate family to keep in a safe secure location!

Bank Accounts and Numbers – You may also want to note where hard copy checks are being stored, if applicable.

Birth Certificate – If you can’t find yours, you can order an official copy.

Brokerage Account Numbers, Account Web Sites and Passwords, Broker Contact Info – Most brokerage accounts have online account information that can be easily accessed.

Computer/Web Site Passwords – These are important for your executor to have in order to close down any open online email services, subscriptions, PayPal accounts, online bank accounts and the like.

Family Contacts – Provide the contact information of professionals who have assisted the family and who the executor will likely need to contact.

Health Records – Provide your executor with all personal health records: this information will be important to the future generations of your family. If you have children who are minors, take the responsibility now to organize their personal health records.

Home Alarm Code and Location of Instructions – It could be pretty embarrassing for your executor to trip off your alarm or not know how it works should you not be around.

Insurance Policies – Make sure life and health insurance policies can be located along with any agent or company information.

Military Discharge Papers – These will come into play if military benefits are due to your beneficiaries.

Organ Donor – If you are a donor, without proper documentation, your wishes will not be observed.

Safe Deposit Box Number and Key – Some have one safe deposit box, others have many. Regardless of your situation, make sure you leave clear instructions as to where yours is and how the executor can access it.

Social Security Number and Card – This is important for identification and benefit claims – not just your Social Security number, but those of your beneficiaries, including minor children.

Trust Documents – If you have created a trust, regardless of type, your executor will need to be able to locate and access the governing documents.

There are a number of other actions that I recommend when I speak to groups and families. The information listed above is a very good starting place. Remember, with issues such as these, pre-emptive action will be extremely valuable for you and your loved ones in the future.

Holiday’s usually include great time visiting with family. Gather this information and make your holiday visit as productive as possible.

%d bloggers like this: