I got a call yesterday from a woman, who I’ll call Sue, whose mother suffered a stroke. Sue’s mom was only 67 years old. The stroke left her completely incapacitated, unable to talk, write or care for herself.
Sue’s mom had executed a power of attorney, giving Sue the authority to handle her financial affairs in the event of her incapacity, and had told Sue where it was located. However, after her mom’s stroke, Sue looked for the power of attorney but was unable to find it. Her mom had apparently moved the document without telling Sue. She searched her mom’s entire house to no avail.
Sue’s call highlighted the importance of continuing to update your loved ones about where your important estate planning documents are located. You might have done everything right by executing a will, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, HIPAA authorization and Directive to Physicians. But if your loved ones don’t know where to find these documents, they are completely useless.
So once you’ve found a secure place to keep your important documents, tell your loved ones where they are located and notify them if you ever move them. Even if you’ve told you them once, it doesn’t hurt to continue to remind them periodically.