Checklists for: Aging Parents’ Legal, Financial, Health, PINs and Passwords etc. Where to find–ie. Valuables, Important Contacts, Housing, Respite

I’ve combined my September 3, 2010 checklist with several others, updated yearly, and deleted redundancies to produce the most comprehensive list I can.

To begin–a must: Know where legal documents are kept: power of attorney, health care proxy, living will and will. I give this no numerical # because having this information will save endless time and frustration as our parents age….it really is a must.

Also know:  hospitals, for example, accept faxes of power of attorney and health care proxies so it’s wise to have extra copies handy in case of a health–or other– emergency. Sr. Advisor RHW, Esq. says parents, as well as their lawyer, should have these documents, if you’re unable to find them.

I was a far-away-living child so my parents’ documents were emailed to me as attachments and kept on my computer. I could view or print as necessary while my parents were alive. My husband’s and mine are at home in a file, but they too should be on my computer in case they’re needed when we’re traveling.

RHW, Esq. further explains that if parents used a lawyer in a law firm to draw up documents, the firm should have copies whether or not the lawyer who drew them up is still there.  If an individual practicing lawyer (not part of a firm) drew them up and has moved around, s/he and the documents could be harder to locate.


1. IDENTIFICATION to be kept in one place and up-to-date
–parent’s legal name
–phone/mobile number(s)
–birth date
–social security number
–PINs, Passwords (computer, airlines, utility companies, credit cards, Apple ID–)

–grandmother’s maiden name, mother’s maiden name: necessary for many  companies   in order to legitimize communication  with you (eg. for shutting off services, paying bills, Medicare).
–Legal state of residence (if more than one home)

2. LOCATIONS: knowing where to find things
–names, phone/mobile/fax numbers/email addresses of significant professionals: attorney, physician(s), financial advisor, emergency contact(s), parent’s close friends–as well as people who help in a variety of ways (cleaning person, companion, veterinarian (should pet need care or boarding).

–bank account(s)
–bills and checkbook
–birth, marriage certificates, divorce decree(s) eg.: You will need marriage certificate for proof of marriage if receiving any of spouse’s pension
–citizenship and military papers
–deeds, ownership records, car titles
–hiding place of valuables
–insurance policies
–keys (identifying what they open)
–letters of instruction to be read after death
–safety deposit box(es) and keys
— 3 previous years’ income tax records-
*PINS and passwords  click:  Aging Parents–Pins and Passwords (2016) for specifics.

–if caregiving at home, keep calendar of doctor’s appointments in a prominent place
–also keep a booklet to record observations, vital signs, food and water intake–anything else a doctor wants–on a daily basis
–maintain up-to-date list of medications and their dosage.
–maintain allergy list if applicable
–up-to-date emergency contact list (2 names minimum) for supervisor or employer if parents work (paid or volunteer)–More important than you might think
–have ambulance service phone # handy. Know when it’s necessary to have ambulance transport to hospital as opposed to your driving  (eg. if an old person falls, it almost always preferable NOT to move him or her).
–know which siblings or friends you can call in emergencies; have their contact numbers handy. Stressful situations can cause us to forget numbers, especially as we age.

4.  *HOUSING (*links to additional good information on same subject)
–is parent’s current home satisfactory?
–have you discussed this, as well as a “PLAN B” if a change is necessary?
–are you familiar with housing options: remaining home with care; moving in with a family member; assisted living, continuing care retirement communities, senior apartments, nursing home?

–is your parent a veteran, entitled to benefits?–Know how to contact VA
–does parent have insurance? health, long-term care, life, auto, homeowner’s, liability, other?
–is there enough money from savings, dividends, interest to maintain lifestyle?
— is there a mortgage on home?
–are there credit card, other debts?
–should adult child’s name be added to accounts? Dad took me to the bank and brokerage firm to meet the “guys” and add my name to his accounts several years before he died. I learned a great deal and ultimately helped writing checks–didn’t want to do this electronically as he still needed to–and could–be in charge. Result: I didn’t feel as overwhelmed by money matters when he died.
–if money could be or is in short supply, a family meeting way ahead of time, can give an idea as to how members can–or can’t–help.

6.  RESPITE: (to give you time for yourself)
–adult day care options for elders
–some hospitals and some senior living communities offer respite as a temporary “break” for caregivers. (If you dad is like mine,  you need to know I’ve never seen such adamant refusal as the weekend respite suggestion…I think he thought he might be stuck there.)
–family member or loyal friend who can help you out when needed. (They don’t have ESP; you must initiate–there will no doubt be a time when you’re “in need.”)
family member or loyal friend for pick up at airport, should you be away when emergency strikes. (I lived far away. My brother and a male friend, since elementary school, were called upon at different times. Invaluable. Click link preceding this sentence.)

As said many times, when we help parents age well, we also help ourselves.

Related: Net Worth Calculation Sheet
Caregivers’ Library excellent resource, many worksheets and checklists
Aging Parents and Elder Care –eldercare checklists and more.

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities. respected professionals and selected publications–to help parents age well.
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    • Do we assume the parent has died. If so, the person legally inheriting the possessions or the executor is left with responsibility for possessions and will need to show proof of pending ownership. Feel free to get back if this doesn’t answer your question.

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