Your Family Files (5) – Insurance, power of attorney, last will, medical papers

So far we have talked about 6 kinds of family files that you must keep and organize. These are civil registry documents, passports and travel documents, real estate papers, financial documents, vehicle papers, and licenses.

Today, we will deal with four very important files: insurance, power of attorney, Last Will and Testament, and medical records.

Insurance and related documents

In my last post,  I said that your vehicle insurance policy should be included in your vehicles file. You may either decide to file it there, or include it in this category, or both. It would not be too much to have copies in both categories. Your long-term goal is to be able to access these documents easily.

You can include other insurance documents here like life insurance, health insurance, and property insurance policies.

Related documents would be memorial or life plans, travel insurance, and educational savings plans.

I also advise you to have a list of your insurance agents’ names, phone numbers, email and office addresses so you can easily contact them when you need to.

Use this checklist to guide you:

  1. Life insurance
  2. Vehicle insurance
  3. Health or medical insurance
  4. Travel insurance
  5. Educational savings plan
  6. Life or memorial plan
  7. Contact details of your insurance agents
  8. Others ___________________

Powers of Attorney

When you want someone to do something for you, you issue a power of attorney. It may be  a general power of attorney, giving broad authority for a specific time. Or it may be a special power of attorney, authorizing someone to do certain things like receiving payment or selling a piece of property.

The person authorizing is called the “principal,” while the person authorized is the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.”

If you are the principal, make sure that the authority you give your agent is very clear and specific. If your agent violates it, you can cancel the power of attorney.

If you are the agent, make sure the exact scope of your authority is clearly spelled out.

Some powers of attorney should be registered with a government agency, depending on the laws of a country or territory and the type of transaction involved.  Make sure that this registration requirement is also complied with.

Use this checklist to guide you:

  •  Special Power of Attorney
    1. Purpose
    2. Principal
    3. Agent
    4. Duration
  •  General Power of Attorney
    1. Purpose
    2. Principal
    3. Agent

Last Will and Testament

Your Last Will and Testament is your way of controlling how your property will be handled after you pass away. When a Last Will is deliberately destroyed by the one who made it (known as a testator), it is cancelled and therefore ineffective.

However, if it is accidentally destroyed or lost, it should still be considered valid but the Last Will must go through a court process to prove that it was accidentally destroyed or lost, and what its contents are. This can be very tricky especially when heirs question its contents. So it’s best to keep it in a safe place.

Some persons specify their preferred funeral arrangements and last rites in the  Last Will or in a separate document. You may do this so that your heirs and relatives would be clear about your final wishes.

For more info on the importance of writing a Last Will, read my post on 7 Reasons for Writing Your Last Will.

List all your properties, and the names and contact details of your heirs, lawyer, accountant, and religious minister.

Use this checklist to guide you:

  1. Last Will and Testament
  2. Name and contact details of the executor named in the Last Will
  3. Names of heirs with contact details
  4. Names of lawyer, accountant and religious minister, with contact details
  5. List of all your properties
  6. Others _____________________

Medical Records

Medical records are for a lifetime. This should include a list of names and contact details of all medical practitioners that you and your family members have consulted and are still consulting. Also make  a list of the clinics and hospitals you have gone to for consultation and treatment.

In addition, you should have the medical history of every family member so that doctors can understand their present medical condition and the risk factors they face. There is an excellent web article entitled “Medical history: Compiling your medical family tree” on the website of Mayo Clinic.

If you or any family member is adopted, you also need to construct the medical history of your or the adopted child’s biological parents.

The Mayo Clinic advises that if possible, include the family medical history of at least three generations and try to get as much information on the following:

  1. Sex
  2. Date of birth
  3. Ethnicity
  4. Medical conditions
  5. Mental health conditions, including alcoholism or other substance abuse
  6. Pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects or infertility
  7. Age when each condition was diagnosed
  8. Lifestyle habits, including diet, exercise and tobacco use
  9. For deceased relatives, age at the time of death and cause of death

Pay special attention to conditions that develop earlier than usual, such as high blood pressure or diabetes in early adulthood, or conditions that affect multiple relatives.

For children, medical records should include immunization history, allergies and medications.

Other items to include are medical abstracts, prescriptions, x-ray and laboratory results, dental records, health insurance plans, and disability records.

Proof of medical expenses can also be included because these are tax deductible in some jurisdictions, and some medical insurance plans reimburse these expenses.

You may also include a Living Will, also known as a Health Care Directive. This contains instructions to doctors on “end-of-life medical care” if you are no longer capable of  informing the doctors of your decision.

Here’s a checklist to guide you:

  1. Names and contact details of your doctors, dentists, hospitals and clinics
  2. Family medical history
  3. Medical family tree
  4. Immunization records
  5. Allergies
  6. Medications and prescriptions
  7. Medical abstracts
  8. X-ray results
  9. Laboratory results
  10. Dental records
  11. Health insurance plans
  12. Disability records
  13. Medical bills
  14. Living will / health care directive
  15. Others ____________________

Til here for now. In my next post, we will deal with academic records, professional and employment records, identification cards, lists and inventories, and valuables.

* This post is based on my free ebook, YOUR FAMILY FILES. This free ebook shows you how you can keep your most important personal and legal documents safe yet easy to find. It’s a good step for your peace of mind. Click here to get it now.


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