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Your Family Crisis Appointment Book

Family life crises don’t make appointments; they just show up. For most people that means tackling a crisis with no experience and no plan. (Hope is not a plan!) So, if you are one of the estimated 109 million Americans who have an older loved one in your orbit, what do you need to do to make a Plan?
Here is my “short list” of the documents you need to have and be able to put your hands on… sometimes with no notice:
• Medical Release – the document you need so your loved one’s medical providers to speak with you about your loved one’s health status, medications and prognosis.
• Power of Attorney (POA) for Finance – a legally binding document that gives a person (referred to as the “agent” or “attorney in fact” permission or power to act on behalf of an individual in matters of property or finance.
• Power of Attorney (POA) for Healthcare – a legally binding document that gives a person power to act on behalf of an individual in matters of medical treatment. The “power” typically is in force when it is deemed the person in question can no longer act for themselves or if they are not conscious.
• Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) – a document (varies state by state) that specifies in advance what measures an individual wishes to have in the event they cannot expressly grant permission themselves. These orders typically revolve around life-saving measures; they are sometimes referred to as advanced directives and are placed in a patient’s medical files.
• Health and Life Insurance Policies – the health policy will help everyone involved understand what is covered and which physicians and other providers are available to your older loved one. The Life insurance policy should be in a safe place so that it can be readily accessed should that become necessary.
• Estate Plan – is (potentially) a wide-ranging document that let’s everyone know how any real estate or other holdings are titled and what the “plan” is for when a will is executed.
• Trust documents – help to identify how one’s estate is to be transmitted to beneficiaries. Trust names need to be consistent with life insurance, will and holdings in order to be in effect.
• Last Will and Testament – the legal document by which a person expresses his or her wishes of how property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution.
• The Grab and Go – This is a list that typically is sealed in a plastic bag. It includes medical insurance documentation, a list of allergies, a list of medications, primary care physician contact details and in case of emergency (ICE) contact information.
Please email ( me with any questions on any of these…as well as how to take the next steps which is your plan. Do yourself a favor…don’t wait for a crisis.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.


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