An estate plan doesn’t do much good when key people don’t know about it or have access to key documents and information.
Many times after someone passes away or falls ill, the family members go on a hunt for a will and other estate planning documents, or the contact information of an attorney who might know about them.
There can be dire consequences when key elements of the estate planning package and other important information aren’t immediately known and accessible to your loved ones, especially if you fall ill.
To avoid these problems, especially during this pandemic, put together a “go package” of essential estate plan items and have these readily available. Be sure your loved ones know about it and where to find it. It is even a good idea to leave it near the exit of your home that’s used the most.
The package definitely needs the key estate planning documents: medical power of attorney/advance medical directive, financial power of attorney, will and living trust agreement. The medical documents are the most important. They don’t do much good when the hospital and doctors don’t know about them.
Copies of your insurance card and any related information also should be in the package. These might include a Medicare card and information about any Medicare supplement and Part D prescription drug coverage you have. Things go much more smoothly at the hospital or a doctor’s office when the medical insurance details are immediately available.
Your key medical history and information also should be in the package.
Any chronic conditions or diseases should be described. Have a list of all your prescriptions, plus any supplements and over-the-counter medications you take. Even better can be photos of the labels. Of course, list your known allergies.
Additional personal information also is important, including full legal name, Social Security number, birth date, emergency contacts and contact information for your medical providers.
For help putting this package together, get a copy of my workbook, To My Heirs. It is available through the “Bob’s Library” tab on the website.
For most people, all this information can be contained in a large envelope or binder. But others have to know what it is, so clearly label it on the outside. At a minimum, your full legal name and a description of the contents should be on the outside.
The package can be in a digital format. Then, it easily can fit on a thumb drive or similar device that is on your key ring or kept near you in another way. But others have to know about it for it to be used.
With a go package such as this, if you need to go to the hospital you need only grab it instead of searching around to make sure you have all this information. Or if you’re already at the hospital, someone can pick it up and bring it where it’s needed.