In this photo, circa 1940s, that's my beloved late mother Beatrice Karp at right. At left is her younger sister, my dear Aunt Pearl, who has always been like a mother to my brothers and me. Pearl is a dynamo still and I feel lucky to have her in my life.
This Mother's Day, I suggest giving your mother- or any woman you love like a mother - a valuable gift that is often overlooked. No, not flowers, dinner or candy - those are nice, but you can figure that out on your own. The gift I'm recommending is helping your mother get her files and paperwork in order. Locating and organizing years of records is a formidable challenge for anyone. If your mom is elderly, even more so.
Getting organized is important because it is an essential step in developing a good legal plan to deal with whatever the future holds. That plan should include making sure someone can make her medical decisions and financial affairs if she cannot with a Health Care Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney, respectively; making plans to deal with the expense of long-term nursing care should she ever need it; and making sure the people of her choice get whatever she leaves behind in her estate.
All this preparation means that your mother will be able to stop worrying about the "what ifs." And really, can you think of any better gift than a peaceful mind?
If Mother agrees, here's a partial list of items that you can help her locate and organize:
- Investment, bank accounts for checking, CD's, brokerage statements.
- Social Security information.
- Insurance policies: life insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance.
- Medicare information and statements.
- Tax documents.
- List of credit cards.
- Utility bills.
- Important documents like birth certificates, naturalization papers, death certificates, etc.
- Deeds for property, registration papers for cars.
- Estate planning documents: wills, trusts, power of attorney, health care power of attorney.
- Mortgage and loan papers.
- Retirement accounts, pension, etc.
- List of all her health care providers.
Helping Mom with this process can be a wonderful and lasting gift to her - and to you, ultimately - provided you approach it with the utmost sensitivity. Happy Mother's Day.