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Elder Law Articles

Vital Personal Information

Vital Personal Information

If you have a serious medical condition such as coronary artery disease or arrhythmia that could suddenly put your life at risk, you probably have a list in your wallet of the prescriptions you take in case of a medical emergency that would render you unconscious and unable to talk with health care providers. That is common sense. But let’s take that a step further and apply it to any adult, no matter their health.

Health information should be on a card that you carry in your wallet or purse and a copy of that should probably be given to your adult children, so someone can have that handy in case of medical emergency. Common sense, right? But in writing this it made me think that I should be preaching to myself, because I haven’t made sure my wife and children have an updated list.

Financial records and critical legal documents are next, because if you become incapable, or die (and someday that is a certainty) your family needs somewhere to start looking. The best course of action is to organize documents such as birth certificate, marriage license, social security card, Medicare and health insurance cards, Veteran’s discharge papers, and make copies of them and have a folder for your spouse, and those of your children who are responsible to hold them
securely. That way, as time goes by, more than one person will be able to handle your affairs if you cannot.

Along with the actual health and financial records, the other documents that your family will need if you cannot sign for yourself are your power of attorney for financial matters, your living will and designation of your healthcare representative, a HIPAA form so family can talk with doctors, and your will and or any trusts you have done. That way, if you are unconscious or should die, your family will be able to act for you and carry out your wishes. If does no good to have those documents if no one knows where they are. A good solution is to have all the originals in a secure place, and make sure that more than one person you trust to handle your affairs knows where you keep the originals. It also pays to have a copy of the originals held by more than one person. If you have two reliable adult children, it may make sense for both to have copies, so they at least know what you have done, and what to look for.

Safe deposit boxes can present a problem because a bank will only allow access to persons on their list as a signer, and who have a key. So make sure your spouse or trusted child is signatory on the box, and has access to a key. Otherwise it may take a court order to obtain access. The classic problem is storing your power of attorney in a safe deposit box. If a family member needs access because you are incapacitated, they won’t be able to use the power of attorney to gain access, unless they also have an original. So if you are going to store a power of attorney in a safe deposit box, make sure the person you named also has an original.

Now that I’ve preached to the choir, it has made me look in the mirror and ask, “do both of my daughters and my wife have an original power of attorney?” I better make sure they do before they read this article, or I am in trouble.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.




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