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Get your family affairs in order

You know - all those things you avoid because they're either too serious, too scarey or too boring. We chatted to experts at Age Space about getting organised and protecting your family in times of need.

It’s easy to avoid the ‘grown up’ stuff but there’s nothing like a world-wide pandemic to prioritise thoughts about mortality. Experts in elderly care – Age Space – have shared some great advice on getting your family affairs in order, care planning and navigating those difficult parental conversations.

Who cares?

It’s so important to have a conversation about ‘care’ and make a plan in case you’re faced with an emergency situation with your parents or relatives. Particularly in the current climate and if you’re a distance away.

Having a comprehensive plan will help you make the best choices on behalf of a relative especially if they can’t make them for themselves. It also ensures everyone in the family is on the same page. It won’t be the most cheerful zoom call of the week but the sense of relief will be worth it.

#preparetocare

Getting the information together will take time and effort, so think of it as a positive lockdown activity. Plus it’s a good way to start conversations with your parents about how they’re really coping.

Create a folder of all the information below (or where to find it) and log the important numbers into your phone.

Important documents

  • Bank account details
  • National Insurance number
  • Passport
  • Driving licence and vehicle ownership papers
  • Birth certificate and marriage certificate
  • Insurance details including private health insurance

Keys 

Who has front door keys? Is there a spare set somewhere? Should there be a keysafe outside? Is there a burglar alarm and do you know the code? Are there other important keys?

Neighbours and friends

Get contact details for friends and neighbours who you can call on, particularly if you don’t live close by.

Contact details

Create a list of all relevant contacts – doctor, priest, carers or regular visitors. Include lawyers, accountants and other key people you may need to contact.

Medical History

pills and drug packets

Allergies, previous surgery, chronic conditions, current medication, especially if your parent is on blood thinners like Warfarin. This information is only recorded at the GP surgery, and not accessible out of hours.

Passwords 

This can be a legal minefield regarding agreements with providers and data protection. But at the very least it is worth knowing the main login details and password to a computer. Plus any details of online accounts, and what is stored where on the computer such as photographs.

Legal Stuff 

Check with your parents that they have written a will and that you know where the latest copy is. Discuss drawing up a Power of Attorney with them and an Advance Directive, well in advance of potential need.

Has your mind just melted with the mention of Wills, Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives? Grab a stiff drink and continue reading – not long now!

Writing a Will

Nobody wants to think about it, but once in place, a Will can be incredibly reassuring. It can be written on any piece of paper, even a napkin and is valid as long as it is signed by its author and two independent witnesses (who are not beneficiaries of the estate). Templates are available online or if you prefer expert guidance, employ a Will writing service or solicitor. For more guidance on different types of wills – yes there is more than one type –click here.

Power of Attorney

If your parents are of sound mind but want to give you or someone they trust the authority to make decisions about their finances, this is an Ordinary Power of Attorney. It is only valid while they have the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their finances. 

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) continues to be valid if your parent can no longer make their own decisions. There are two types:

1) Property and Financial Affairs LPA which covers selling a home, paying the mortgage, investing money, paying bills and arranging repairs to the property

2) Personal Welfare LPA which covers where your parents should live, their medical care, what they should eat, who they should have contact with and what kind of social activities they should take part in.

For more information on how to go about setting up a Power of Attorney visit www.agespace.org

Advance Directive

Also referred to as a Living Will. This is a legal way for someone to decide which life-sustaining/saving medical treatments they do not want to receive in the future.

Someone wishing to make an Advance Directive needs to write it down, sign it and have it witnessed. You do not need a doctor or solicitor, although both are helpful to understand the consequences. It is legally binding as long as you have the mental capacity to write and sign the Advance Directive. It will take the place of decisions made by other people, such as doctors or relatives. For more information on what is and isn’t included in an AD click here.

For more elderly care advice especially now during COVID 19 – click here or visit agespace.org

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