Must-Have Legal Documents

Must Have Legal Docs

Legal documents can feel endless and overwhelming at any life stage. We want to simplify the process as much as possible so that you and your loved one can spend less time mired in paperwork and more time enjoying your time together. We’ve outlined the basics of which legal documents are needed to ensure your loved one is empowered in their personal, financial and medical decisions. Another tip to consider is that while maintaining an organized ‘library’ of these documents at your loved one’s residence is critical, it’s just as important to keep a complete duplicate set in a separate, secure location.

Key Legal Documents – Personal 

These are the most common pieces of personal history that you may be required to have on hand when coordinating arrangements (most commonly financial) with (or on behalf of) your loved one:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate and/or divorce records
  • Social Security card
  • Driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Military identification/records

Key Legal Documents – Financial 

The earlier that financial records are gathered, the better. You will want to have all of this information organized and accounted for, especially in the unfortunate instance of a loved one unexpectedly becoming incapacitated. While Sandwych isn’t able to provide legal or financial advice, we do have extensive experience navigating the various rules and regulations and can help you better understand the ins and outs of what you’ll need – and why – in each of the areas below.

  • Active bank accounts
  • Tax returns
  • Pension documents
  • Property titles/deeds
  • Brokerage accounts
  • Business operating agreements
  • Outstanding loans/debts

Key Legal Documents – Estate Planning 

Ensuring that your elderly loved one has the opportunity to dictate how their assets will be distributed is the most critical function of estate planning. It brings clarity to both families and individuals, and can prove immensely beneficial with regard to minimizing the possibility of unforeseen disputes, fees, and even taxes. It can also be a beautiful moment for your loved one to explore their own ideas of personal legacy, carving a unique one in the process. The basic elements of estate planning include:

  • Will and Testament
  • Life Insurance policies
  • End of life instruction
  • Durable power of attorney (for property)

Key Legal Documents – Medical 

These documents are the ones that you will want to have at the ready in the event of any unexpected health emergencies, in addition to their otherwise necessity for your elderly loved one.

Living will / Healthcare directive

  • Medical Power of Attorney (for healthcare)
  • Medical records release authorization

Non-Legal, but still essential medical information:

  • Comprehensive medical history
  • Current medication list/instructions with physician information

Now that you have an idea of the ‘what’ that needs to be created or collected, you might have a few questions as to the ‘how.’ We’re always happy to share any resources we have with regard to which financial firm or legal counsel may be able to help you create these documents and plans. As you work with your loved one to finalize each of the items on this list, keep in mind that you can provide a nurturing source of support by simply walking them through the process and explaining any areas of uncertainty.