What Documents Do I Need?

signature What Documents Do I Need?Nancy Nall Reporting

A reader writes to WWJ Newsradio 950 about Caring for Aging Parents: Is there a check list of information (financial, mortgage, insurance, auto, etc.) that children should have from their parents?

We posed the question to Danielle Mayoras, attorney at the Center for Elder Law, a division of the law firm Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras and Mayoras. She advises that the most important thing for parents and their children to do is to communicate.

“It’s not really important to have copies of documents, because they change so often,” she said. “But children should have access, and know where everything is.”

You might consider a single organizer — a notebook or folder — to hold everything in one place. Mayoras says it should include:

• Recent financial statements

• A list of professionals with knowledge of their parents’ situation — CPA, lawyer, financial adviser, bankers, etc.

• Life insurance policies

• Titles to real property

• A recent tax return

• Stock certificates

• A will

• Any other pertinent documents.

Don’t put these things in a safe-deposit box without making sure all concerned know where the box is, have access and a key. One exception — and it’s an important one — is a medical power of attorney, along with any advance directives (sometimes called living wills).

Those papers should be in an adult child’s hands, because they might be necessary at a moment’s notice during a medical emergency.

“The important thing is to have the conversation,” says Mayoras. “Know where it is.”

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