How to get an aging parent’s affairs in order

No one ever plans on becoming ill or disabled. That’s why it’s important to have your affairs in order at any given point during your life. Even so, many elderly people who have kept their affairs (financial and otherwise) organized and up-to-date for most of their lives need to be more vigilant than ever as they enjoy their golden years because unforeseen medical complications can leave someone unable to properly care for themselves. Soon bills begin to mount up both at home and in the hospital. The person eventually passes away and their kin are left with bills, the funeral and the estate to deal with — all in the midst of mourning.

Planning for the future can alleviate many of these problems. Even if someone is in good health in their old age, it’s recommended to having the following information up-to-date just in case something happens.

Personal records*

For personal records, make sure these items are organized, documented and up-to-date:

  • Full legal name
  • Social Security number
  • Legal residence
  • Date and place of birth
  • Names/addresses of spouse and children (or location of death certificates)
  • Location of living will
  • Location of birth certificate, certificate(s) of marriage, divorce, citizenship, adoption, passport etc.
  • Employers and dates of employment
  • Medications taken regularly
  • Education/military records
  • Religion, name of church and names of clergy (if applicable)
  • Names and address of close friends, relatives, doctors, lawyer/financial advisor, etc.
  • Preferred funeral and burial arrangements


Financial records*

As with personal information, it’s best to keep financial records — including all assets, debts and insurance policies — organized, thorough and well-documented.

  • Sources of income and assets including employer, pension funds, 401Ks, etc.
  • Investment income (stocks, bonds, property plus stock brokers’ names/addresses/emails)
  • Insurance policy info (health, home, car, etc. plus agents’ names/addresses/emails)
  • Bank account info (checking, savings, credit union plus account numbers)
  • Deeds, trust, car titles, etc.
  • Other investments (including jewelry and art)
  • Social Security/Medicare info
  • Location of safe deposit boxes and keys
  • Copy of most recent income tax return
  • Copy of will
  • Liabilities
  • Mortgages and debts
  • Credit card info
  • Property tax info
  • Location of all personal items such as jewelry and family treasures

Living will

Make sure the living will has been updated recently. Oftentimes people make their first wills as young adults after they’ve been married or had children. Thirty years down the road, however, you can imagine how much a person’s life has changed, and so should their will. Make sure the will includes vital end-of-life directions, such as a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Related: Living Wills Increasingly Wise for Seniors (CBS)

Power of attorney

If an elderly parent becomes ill and is no longer able to make decisions on their own, taking care of everyday things such as bills become impossible. That’s why it’s necessary for someone to be designated with power of attorney. Oftentimes spouses or children are trusted with this duty.

Related: Caring for Elderly Parents (U.S. State Department)

Encompass can help

Encompass Senior Solutions, serving Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa, provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the available options and help families maneuver through the challenges of the system.

All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today.

*Info via uuca-md.org

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”