No one likes filling out paperwork and not having the right documents on-hand makes things even more frustrating. This post will tell you what you need to know.

When dealing with the transition of a loved one’s living situation or a medical emergency, an added stress is handling the paperwork. These situations are fraught with stress and are often unexpected. Collecting the essential documents ahead of time can help minimize the stress when the situation does occur.

In addition to an end-of-life situation, there are other times when legal documents may be required, including when moving into an assisted living community, when hospitalized, when applying for benefits or when selling a home. Not having the correct documents can cause issues, for example when applying for benefits not having the proper documents could cause benefits to be delayed or even denied. 

When collecting and preparing these documents express to your loved one that having a clear understanding of their wishes is the most important thing. During this process putting yourself in their shoes can help you be sensitive to their privacy.

One document that it is important to be aware of is the authorization to release health care information. Since 1996 the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires a written release in order for a doctor’s office to give you or others, such as insurance companies, access to an individual’s health records. This release also grants you permission to discuss their care with their physicians. While their primary care physician should have this form included in their medical chart, a separate form will be needed if they are treated at an ER or are admitted to a hospital. 

It is also important to know the difference between a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney. An individual who has been designated the Durable Power of Attorney has the authority to mange finances in the event that the individual is not able to make decisions for themselves. In contrast, a Health Care Power of Attorney, also referred to as a Health Care Proxy, can only make medical decisions. These roles can be designated to two different individuals or one person can be granted the authority over both. 

Download a PDF: Essential Documents Checklist – Valley Comfort Blog

Essential Documents Checklist for Health Care Facility Admission

  • Driver’s license/ ID card
  • Social Security card
  • Insurance card
  • Health Care Power of Attorney

Recommended Long Term Documents Checklist
Legal Documents
  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Marriage certificate/ divorce record
  • Military records
Health Care
    • Authorization to release health-care information (HIPPA form)
    • Living Will/ Advance Directives/ DNR
End-of-Life and Estate Planning
    • Last Wil and Testament
    • Durable Power of Attorney
    • Organ Donor card
    • Life-insurance policy
Financial Records
  • Bank accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Tax returns
  • Mortgage records
  • Record of assets
  • Partnership/corporate agreements
  • 401(k)/pension accounts
  • Deeds
  • Stock certificates
  • Safe deposit box keys
  • Vehicle title(s)
List of Contacts
  • Clergy members
  • Beneficiaries
  • Insurance agent
  • Financial advisors with knowledge of wills and finances, such as an attorney, financial planner, broker or tax advisor.