As I mentioned in a recent post, you can ask anybody about the initial diagnosis of dementia and you will hear that they were told, “get your affairs in order.” Perhaps you already have done this. But if you have not (and let’s face it–this is a difficult task), you will need, for both of you:
- A Will
- A General Power of Attorney
- A Health Care Power of Attorney
- A Living Will
Why for both of you? Because the odds are fairly high that you, dear Care Partner, will die or become incapacitated first. And that means someone else will have to step in and take over the welfare of your disabled loved one and/or you. Don’t you want to make sure the best person gets the job of fighting for you?
Because you are super-organized, you also have a notebook, file, or computer document whose location you have shared with at least two key people, telling them everything they need to know if they have to bat cleanup when you no longer can. This should include:
- where to find the banking and credit card information, life insurance and long-term care insurance policies, mortgage or lease paperwork;
- contact information for your attorney;
- the location of the safe deposit box key, birth certificates, marriage license;
- all that stuff.
What, you don’t have all these things perfectly in order, easy to find, and updated within the past year?
Verily I say unto you, if you have a dementia diagnosis in the family, you need these things. Now. You have entered a world in which a lot of decisions will have to be made, and you want to be the one who makes them.
Moreover, if everything is in order and in one place, easy to decipher, complete and clear — well, your descendants will bless your sacred memory, I promise. And if you don’t die first, your loved one’s wishes will also be clear and complete so that you can help her live and die in the manner she wishes.
“Getting Your Affairs In Order” can be a daunting task. If you can afford to consult an elder care attorney (even if the diagnosis is early onset), you should do that. However, there are dozens of articles online about organizing your personal information. Here’s one I like: New York LifeFolio Checklist. It’s a two-column list of documents and information you might want to find in a hurry, or your heirs might want to find, period. The second column is for you to write down the location of each item.
As you pull together the list, you will see what is missing and what needs to be updated. From that, you make your to-do list. For example:
- You locate your will and….wow, it’s ten years old. It leaves your entire estate to your useless ex-son-in-law.
Task #1: Update will. Here’s a link to free templates for wills, POAs, and all sorts of useful documents: lawdepot.com
- You have four bank accounts at three different banks, one of them linked to
Venmo . . . Yikes, are you the only person who knows this?
Task #2: Write down on a piece of paper the name of each bank account, its account number, and the PIN to your ATM. Put this piece of paper in your binder or file, and write its location on the checklist.
See, you’ve got this. Right foot, left foot. If you take care of these weighty details now, you won’t have to battle it out in court later. You can stop worrying about all those things and focus on living with dementia instead of dying from it.