Adult children often have difficulty discussing financial matters with an aging loved one. In many families, finances just aren’t discussed. Now, as a senior loved one grows older, those conversations are more and more important ones to have. Do you know if they have a will or durable power of attorney and where you might find those documents? In the event of a crisis, would you know what bills your parent has that might need to be paid? Many times an elder crisis is caused by a gradual decline that you see coming, but often times there is no warning. A slip on an icy Michigan sidewalk can send an aging loved one to the hospital and then to rehab. Would you be able to locate the financial and medical documents you need to help them?
To make it easier to get started, we have pulled together a list of basic questions to ask your senior loved one before a crisis occurs.
Important Documents and Medical Cards
- Where is their Medicare card?
- Do they still have traditional Medicare or have they gone with a Medicare replacement product? If they have, what is the company name and where is the card?
- Do they have any type of secondary insurance? If so, what company is it with and where is that card?
- What is their social security number and where do they keep their card? (This is a good time to remind them that this should be stored in a safe place to avoid identify theft and not kept in a wallet or purse)
- Do they have a will? Who is the executor? Is there an attorney involved?
- Where is their original birth certificate?
- Do they have any life insurance and/or long-term care policies?
- Do they have a Power of Attorney (POA) and/ Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)? Who have they named to represent their wishes? Where are these documents? (In the event of a crisis, it is important to have copies on hand and not have to wait for a bank to re-open on Monday should a crisis occur on a weekend.)
- What banks do they use and what are their bank account numbers and passwords? Do they use online accounts?
- Are you or another loved one on the account with them? In the event of an emergency that would require you or another adult child to pay their bills for them would you have authority to do so?
- Do they have a safe deposit box? If so, where is it and where are the keys?
- What bills do they have and when do they pay them?
- Where is their mortgage information or deed to their house? What home owners insurance do they have?
- If they are still driving, is their car paid for in full? Where is the title to the vehicle? Who is it insured through?
- Do they have a list of their stocks, bonds, and other accounts?
Just the thought of asking your senior loved one these questions might make you squirm. But the consequences of not knowing the answers may put your loved one at risk of not getting the help they need and want in a crisis.
Have we missed anything? Please share any questions we’ve missed in the comments below!