Dying to Share: Preparing for the Death of a Loved One

Updated: 11/12/2013 8:19 PM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

(Information provided by Attorney Jody Cohen Press)

1. Do you have health care directives?

2. Do you have powers of attorney?

3. Do you have wills?

4. Do you have trusts? Are they funded?

5. When was the last time you reviewed the documents listed above?

6. Where are the documents listed above located? Does someone other than you know their location?

7. Do you have life insurance, annuities, 401(K)s, 403(B)s and IRA's? Do you have long-term care insurance?

8. Do you have pensions? Are they "joint-and-survivor" or "single life"?

9. Who are the primary and contingent beneficiaries of your investments?

10. Do you have on-line accounts? Does someone other than you know the user names and passwords?

Do you worry about receiving 'THE CALL?' The call that tells you your out-of-town parents are in crisis? Do you know what to do on short notice for a short-term visit? Although we hope you never receive this call, here's the list of the:

Top 10 Things to Do: A Crisis Visit With Aging Parents

(Information provided by Attorney Jody Cohen Press)

1. Look for health care directives and powers of attorney. If they don't have these documents, are strong enough and have an attorney, arrange a visit to get these documents prepared.

2. Try to arrange for at least one doctor's appointment and get medical decision-making authority. Make a list of medications (and supplements) and the prescribed dosages.

3. Look for will and trust documents. If your parents don't have these documents, do not try to arrange for an attorney visit. Getting these documents prepared should not be done on a short-term visit.

4. If your parents are strong enough, take them to their bank and have them give you power of attorney on the account(s) so you can pay bills and monitor transactions. If there's more than one bank and if you have limited time and/or if your parents don't have the strength, go to the bank where they have their "everyday" checking account.

5. Look for bank, investment, and brokerage account statements; retirement plan/pension documents; life insurance policies & annuity contracts and long-term care insurance policies. Look for beneficiary designations for these assets.

6. Look for user names and passwords for online accounts. Print out the most recent account statements. Delete/disable online shopping accounts.

7. Get Social Security & Medicare numbers. Get supplemental medical insurance account numbers.

8. Look for the previous year's income tax returns (and 1099's.) On the federal return, look for Schedule B (interest/dividends) and Schedule D (capital gains & losses.)

9. Make a list of neighbors and friends and their telephone numbers.

10. Get rid of throw rugs! (They are often responsible for falls.)

You likely won't be able to get all of these tasks done on a short-term visit. Prioritize which ones are most important in your parents' situation.

This is not easy. Just do the best you can.

*This information is not legal or tax advice. Consult an estate planning attorney for more information.

For this news story and the Top-10 lists, we enlisted the assistance of St. Louis Park Attorney Jody Cohen Press. More information is available at www.estateplanningmn.com and www.estateplanningtwincities.com.

A list of Minnesota Wills and Probate Lawyers is here.

Useful information from the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General is here.

Series Dying to Share:

Click here to see part one, Dying to Share: Minnesotans Tell Their Stories

Click here to see part two, Dying to Share: Wills, Trusts, Estates and More