Gathering Important Papers: A Checklist

files paperclipped together next to eyeglasses on a desk

Why Seniors Need to Get Their Affairs in Order

Tips for Gathering and Organizing Your Important Documents

Many people struggle with conversations or tasks that concern end-of-life care and wishes. While the subject can be difficult or uncomfortable, estate planning ahead of time can actually enhance your life and bring peace of mind as you age. If you take no steps to get your affairs in order now, the burden will fall on your family later—health care situations become much more complicated and family members may have to make a guess regarding your wishes.

The Conversation Project, a public engagement initiative from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is encouraging older adults to “talk about their wishes for care through the end of life, so those wishes can be understood and respected.” The first step is to determine your health care proxy (also referred to as a power of attorney or a surrogate decision-maker). This is a person who can speak on your behalf if you are unable to make your own health care decisions. This might include talking to your doctor or nurses or reading your medical records. The Conversation Project recommends choosing your health care proxy, having a conversation with them about this role and your wishes, and adding that person’s details to your official documents.

After you choose your health care proxy, the next step is to begin gathering all of your important papers: medical, financial, and legal documents. Make sure copies of these papers are easily accessible and kept together in a folder or binder.

Checklist for Gathering Your Important Papers

Medical Documents:

 Health Care Proxy

 Living Will

 Personal Medical History

 Insurance Policies (Health, Life, Long-Term Care, etc.)

Financial Documents:

 Bank Accounts

 Tax Returns (go several years back)

 Pension Documents

 Brokerage and Securities Accounts (stocks and bonds)

 Business Operating Agreements (if applicable)

 Property Deeds and Titles

 List of Loans and Debts (mortgages, credit cards, etc.)

Personal Documents:

 Birth Certificate

 Marriage/Divorce Records

 Military Records

 Driver’s License or Passport

 Social Security Card

If you have any questions about the above list, the experienced team at McGregor would be happy to speak with you or your loved one. We are passionate about providing comprehensive aging services to seniors and their families.

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