It is tax season again and I want to tell you about an opportunity that exists to help your aging loved ones and yourself at the same time. As tax-related statements and documents are “pulled together” for tax reporting purposes, now is the time to get all of this information and more organized and stored in one place in an Essential Records File. Take advantage of the opportunity to gather the necessary W-2s, 1099s and other financial documents and schedules.

Take the next step, to locate the following items and place them in your file:

-Mortgage and deed information
-Home, life, health, long-term care and other insurance policies
-Medical records
-Any prepaid funeral and burial policies
-An advance care plan
-Advance directives
-A durable power of attorney
-An appointment of a health care agent
-The last will and testament
-An inventory of assets owned

If these documents do not to exist…
Steps should be taken to create, execute and formalize them. Remember that everyone has an estate regardless of size, so it is important to find or create these documents. Now is the time to think in the future. All of this information will be needed at some point and what better time to get it all together. Once you have assembled this information, you can organize and store it in an Essential Records File. The Essential Records File is merely a vertical file, expanding file or file box that can be purchased at any office supply store or in the office supplies section of most retailers. This step will be one of the first that you will take when you assume greater responsibility for your elderly parent’s wellbeing. Being proactive regarding the locating, assembling and organizing of this information is a positive step and one that is easier if you are not “under pressure.”

My family is lucky in this respect. My mother has already assembled this information and told each of my brothers and sisters where it is located. It isn’t hard to miss. Much to my dismay, my mother has elected to put it on a credenza in the entry area of her home for all to see. I have encouraged her to put it in the desk in her bedroom and occasionally she agrees. However, it is a short-term agreement. On my last visit, this information was once again on prominent display in her entry area. This is a minor concern in the bigger picture. The key is to locate all of this information get it organized and put in an Essential Records File. It is important to keep this sensitive information in a safe place like a locked file cabinet, safety deposit box or safe.

Learn more about caring for your elderly loved one with Aging, Caring & You…

For more information on how to best care for your elderly loved one, Check out more of our in-depth blog discussions on a wide range of topics. We are here to help you and another thing that can help is our podcast where we discuss elderly health care, housing, finance, legal and even end-of-life processes. Click here to listen to our podcast. You can visit us online at or visit us on social media on our Facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you give the best care for your loved one that you can!