Sunday, September 21, 2008

Paperwork You Must Have

When you start caring for a loved one, you can quickly get overwhelmed. If you move them into your home there are a plethora of arrangements to be made. Where are they going to sleep, do I have to make things handicapped accessible, what can I do myself, who can I hire to do the rest, etc. You can forget about the paperwork you need until it is too late. If you are the spouse, then usually you are the primary decision maker. But if you are a sibling or grandchild or some other relative, unless you are the only living relative, you are going to have to deal with family.

This is where all the buried family issues usually start to surface. It is best to get this over with before you have to move your loved one into your home or where ever it has been decided to move them. Even if you have all verbally decided who will do what, GET IT IN WRITING.

The basic papers you will need are listed below. Since this is a basic list and every one's income is different, yo may not need all of this. Use what you need and don't worry about the rest.

First, get a lawyer. If your loved one already has a lawyer, find out what papers they have already taken care of. That can be your starting point and may save you a lot of heartache later.
Now for the list:

1. WILL. This is a necessity even if no money is involved. You would be surprised at how people act over the physical belongings of someone once they have died. You should get this as soon as possible. Even if they protest, take them to a lawyer and insist they decide what to do with their estate and who is the executor.

2. DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY. Personally, I think whoever is taking care of the person should have power of attorney. They are the one who is making decisions about the daily living of your loved one and they should be able to make the best most informed decision without fear of repercussions from other family members.

3. MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY. Your loved one needs a medical advocate. This is not the same as power of attorney. This only allows medical decisions to be made on behalf of your loved one.

4. LIVING WILL or DNR. Your loved one should do this at the same time as their will. This will let you know if they want to do whatever is necessary to save their life regardless of their mental or physical well-being after all has been done to save them. This is something that should be discussed with your loved one. You want to make the decision they want as much as possible. I suggest that you really consider this together. Do you want to be saved even if you are no longer able to do anything (talk, eat, think,etc.) are questions you should ask your loved one. A DNR is commonly know as a Do Not Resuscitate form.

5. BURIAL POLICY. This is something no one likes to talk about but I can assure you that you will be grateful you took care of this early. Ask your lived one if they have one and if not and finances allow for it, get one.

Most of these forms are available at Office Depot, or some other office supply store. They are fill in the blank type forms and all you need is to have them notarized. If you know a notary that will come to you that can really be a blessing if your loved one is not very mobile.. We were fortunate. My mom works with a notary and she came to the house so my mom did not have to take granny out to do this. Unfortunately, my granny did not have most of this paperwork and by the time she came here to live she had just about lost the ability to write. So do this ASAP for your own protection and the protection of your loved one.

If you are putting them in a nursing facility, you will definitely need most of this paper work. They will want all power of attorneys on file as well as any living will you may have. The same goes for any doctors or hospital you may have to visit.

If you come from a large family or even if there are only 2 of you, you need to be on the same page with all of this. If your loved one has done most of this already, then so much the better. You can always say mom or dad already took care of this. That stops a lot of nit picking. I hope this has helped some of you. I wish we had someone to help us when all this started. This live and learn stuff really sucks sometimes.


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