Most families I have met over the years needed some general guidelines regarding what to have in place and how to know to accomplish this task. Here are some of my favorite ideas for getting things sewed up and ready for a new start. This might seem burdensome, until you actually need that information at hand. Then it seems like it was terrific plan to have this all in one place.
A recent article in the Ashland Daily Tidings, titled “In the new year, be sure you have your 'ICE' file ready,” suggests that you create a file named ICE—“in case of emergency” or the “grab-and-go” file. Make sure anyone who needs to have this information knows where it is, so if you have to leave for the hospital in a hurry, you’ll have all your important information.
Here’s what you should put in there:
- Advance Directive for Health Care;
- A copy of the POLST document (Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) from your medical provider;
- A current list of medications; and
- Medical history.
The article says to copy the following onto one page, with the front and back of each item:
- Date of birth on a driver’s license or photo ID card; and
- Medicare and/or other insurance card, including any secondary insurance.
In addition, you also want to have a list of all of your insurances, emergency contacts, locations of keys, and the like.
One valuable member of your team is your estate planning attorney. He or she is invaluable in making sure you have a realistic view of your situation at this point. Make an appointment with your attorney this year to be sure your documents are all current and up-to-date.
Don’t create a family disaster and have your adult children discover that you have no legal documents appointing anyone to help with your financial and medical decisions. At that point, with all of your potential medical conditions, you could leave your loved ones with an extremely complicated situation.
Again, work with an estate planning attorney to have all of this ready.
Resource: Ashland (Oregon) Daily Tidings (December 29, 2014) “In the new year, be sure you have your 'ICE' file ready”