It’s like a lightning strike when the phone rings and you hear the news that your parent has had a stroke and is on his way to the hospital. That’s what happened to me a few years ago, and I still remember exactly where I was when I got the call that my dad had a stroke and my life turned upside-down. Those were scary times for my mom and for me, not knowing what his recovery might look like, or if he would survive. And yet, daily finances still had to be taken care of – bills paid, tax returns filed, insurance claims pursued. I’m lucky enough to say that with rehab and excellent care, Dad has made an almost full recovery. My profession leant itself to making sure my parents were prepared to deal with this life-shattering event, and I want to make sure you are too.
Whether it’s your spouse or your parents, the critical first step is to be informed. Imagine for a moment that your loved one couldn’t communicate with you – what would you need to know on their behalf? Here are some important points to consider BEFORE life throws you the unwanted curve ball:
Do you know where their legal documents are? If they are alive, but incapacitated, you need a financial power of attorney to act on their behalf. This should be included in their legal documents, along with a will and healthcare directives.
Do you know their online passwords? We’re moving more and more to an online world for financial transactions – don’t endure the headache of not knowing how to access their accounts.
Do you know their cell phone password and social media passwords?
Do they have long term care insurance to help pay for their care? If so, what insurance company is it with and does it pay for in-home care or only a skilled facility?
If they don’t have long term care insurance, which assets were they planning to use first to pay for their care?
Do you know if they have a safe deposit box? You should be an authorized signer on it, if you aren’t already.
If it’s your parents, do you have a key to their home and know their alarm password?
If it’s your parents, do you have a list of the medications they are taking and a copy of their Medicare cards and Medicare Supplement cards?
Being prepared goes beyond the merely financial. Doing this work now will allow you to focus on your loved one’s care and recovery, if that time comes.