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Being a family caregiver requires both the left and right sides of the brain — the logical and the imaginative, but you’ll save yourself time and stress if you start the job with a left-side project. Find, replace and organize the documents you’ll almost certainly need in the course of care.
One job, two parts:
l. Find or replace care recipient’s life documents.
II. Make sure advance directives and powers of attorney are completed.
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Part I - Find or replace government-issued certificates, records and decrees.
A single passport can carry you around the world, but the caregiving journey can require the documents your loved one began accruing on the first day of life. Why? Different situations require different documents. A marriage license may be needed to claim spousal pension benefits. Divorce papers to ensure an ex is not an automatic beneficiary. Military service records entitle a soldier to veterans benefits.
Begin the search by asking the person in your care, “Where do you keep your important papers?”
If the answer is “at home,” but your loved one can’t recall exactly where, launch a scavenger hunt. Remember that people tend to put important papers in places they view as important — desk drawers, a file cabinet, a particular box, a family bible. Some store them with other rarely needed belongings. Check the attic, basement, closet shelves.
If the answer is, “in a safe-deposit box,” take your loved one, and the safe-deposit box key, to the bank.
- Inventory and record the contents together. Take this list with you.
- The box holder should add a trusted second person to the account. The assigned person can then deposit and retrieve contents. Should your loved one die without a second name on the account, state law may require a court order or a certified death certificate to open the box before probate is completed.
- Do not leave funeral instructions or a cemetery plot deed in the safe-deposit box.