Here is another in our series of past blogs. This one is from January of 2011.
Recently I had someone in my office wanting to know what his options were for taking care of his In-laws. In 2004, when the first signs of medical troubles appeared, he had, with his wife and her siblings, tried to convince the parents that they needed to get their affairs in order. They needed to do some planning, but as is all too common, no planning was done. Where there could have been many choices and options, now there are few. Where there could have been comfort in their final years, now hard choices must be made that would never have been considered before.
The National Institute on Aging gives three simple, but important steps to putting your affairs in order:
- “Put your important papers and copies of legal documents in one place. You could set up a file, put everything in a desk or dresser drawer, or just list the information and location of papers in a notebook. If your papers are in a bank safe deposit box, keep copies in a file at home. Check each year to see if there's anything new to add.
- Tell a trusted family member or friend where you put all your important papers. You don't need to tell this friend or family member about your personal affairs, but someone should know where you keep your papers in case of emergency. If you don't have a relative or friend you trust, ask a lawyer to help.
- Give consent in advance for your doctor or lawyer to talk with your caregiver as needed. There may be questions about your care, a bill, or a health insurance claim. Without your consent, your caregiver may not be able to get needed information. You can give your okay in advance to Medicare, a credit card company, your bank, or your doctor. You may need to sign and return a form.”
When it comes to planning for the future, the sad fact is that every year we fail to plan we lose options. Wait long enough and the only options left are those made for us out of desperation. Remember, timing is everything. In order to maintain control as long as possible and have an effect on your own quality of life decisions you must choose to act now. Your decisions need to be made known and documented correctly.