Everyone has important personal identifying documents—from birth certificates to social security numbers to titles and driver’s licenses. These documents that you accumulate over your lifetime should be organized, but how do you know which documents to keep and which ones you no longer need?
Because many of life’s most important decisions are based on documentation, it is imperative you have the right documents organized so that they are easy to retrieve when the time comes. Whether you are assisting an elderly family member or organizing your own documentation, now is the time to get the paperwork in check.
These documents may be required when someone is hospitalized, moving into a retirement community, sells their home, enters into a contract or even applies for benefits.
Some documents that you must keep include:
- Bank Account Documents: This includes checkbooks, debit cards, associated bank statements and any documentation from that account. If you are an authorized signer on an elderly family member’s account, have documentation proving such in the same file.
- Investments and Retirement Accounts: Any investments, such as savings bonds, stock certificates, brokerage accounts and retirement funds (including pensions) must be organized by the financial institution holding them.
- Estate Planning Documents: If there is an estate plan, all documents associated with that plan should be kept together. This includes a will, trust information, durable financial powers of attorney, healthcare proxy documents, etc.
- Deeds and Titles: Property deeds and vehicle titles should be kept.
- Debts: This can include credit card accounts, loans, and any personal debts. Organize them by the debtor for easier access.
- Medical Documents: Medical documents are important and should always be organized. Keep documentation regarding medical history, any long-term care policies, insurance information (including private insurance as well as state-funded), authorizations to release health information, and any living wills or health care proxies.
- Other Essential Documents: These documents are critical for proving identity and can include driver’s license, social security card, passport, birth certificate, military records, veteran’s service and discharge papers, safe deposit box information and keys, lists of online usernames and passwords, divorce decrees, marriage licenses and photo identifications (if no driver’s license is present).
If for any reason there are documents that are no longer needed, shred them using a cross-hatch shredder. Even if they are not your documents, being in charge of an elderly loved one’s documents means you are responsible for their privacy and identity. So, take care when disposing of these sensitive documents.
Once you have essential documents in order, Adult Care Advisors can refer you to a long-term care facility or senior care facility for yourself or your loved one.
Contact our team at Adult Care Advisors to get more information about what documentation is necessary.