QUESTION: Everyone is telling me to get my affairs in order. I assume they are referring to “important papers.” Exactly what is considered an important paper?
ANSWER: When people talk about important papers they are basically talking about a will, a trust, an advance directive for healthcare and a power of attorney. There are also other papers that are important – but which are important may be different for different families.
Let’s review the basic papers first. A will is a legal document which proves that the maker of the will intends to transfer his or her property upon death to certain people named in the will.
A trust is a legal document which holds the property, real and personal, as fiduciary for the benefit of another and provides for the distribution of the property upon death.
An advance directive for health care lets you state what kind of health care you do or do not want when you can’t speak for yourself and to name a person to carry out those wishes.
For legal matters you should complete a power of attorney for financial matters. A general power of attorney lets you give authority to act on your behalf. However, this power ends when you are unable to make your own decisions.
A “durable” power of attorney provides the same authority but that power stays in place if you become unable to make your own decisions.
Steps for getting your affairs in order include getting all your important papers in one place, telling a trusted family member or friend where the papers are kept and giving consent in advance for your doctor or lawyer to talk with your caregiver as needed.
Other important items that should be with these papers include your personal information and papers. Personal information includes your full legal name, social security number, legal residence, date and place of birth and names and addresses of spouse and children.
Other important papers that should be gathered together are birth and death certificates, certificates of marriage, divorce, citizenship and adoptions. Education, military records and employers and dates of employment should also be included.
Other information that would be helpful includes names and phone numbers of religious contacts, memberships in groups and awards that have been received. Phone numbers of relatives, lawyer and financial advisor and close friends would also be helpful.
With all of this in place, should something happen to you, your family would be able to handle any questions that might arise.
WEDNESDAY – June 13 – 1:00 to 3:00 pm – The Ventura Parkinson’s Disease Support Group will host the Alzheimer’s Association at their monthly meeting.
Phil Chandler, Community Voices Speaker for the Alzheimer’s Association, California Central Chapter at the Ventura County Regional Office, will present the educational program – Healthy Living for your Brain and Body. The meeting is at Lexington Assisted Living, 5440 Ralston Street in Ventura. For more information call Patty at 1-805-766-6070.
THURSDAY – June 14 – 10:00 to 11:30 am – Seminar – “Questions to Ask Before Hiring In-Home Care” – at Agoura Hills Recreation & Event Center, 29900 Ladyface Court in Agoura Hills. For reservations call (818) 597-7361.
FRIDAY – June 15 – 5:00 pm – “Annual Summer BBQ” – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $9 and available at Goebel’s front desk – enjoy an evening of dinner, live music, entertainment and tons of fun.
WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY – June 27-28 – 1:00 to 5:00 pm – AARP Smart Driver Course – at Pleasant Valley Senior Center, 1605 E. Burnley Street in Camarillo. Registration is required by June 20. Cost is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members. For more information call 1-805-482-4881.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call 1-805-495-6250 or e-mail email@example.com (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.