My mom is aging quickly. Soon she won't be able to answer questions sensibly or fill out forms.
We are working on powers of attorney (regular and medical) and her advance directives. But there must be more we need to get sorted.
Can this wonderful community help me construct a bullet-list of things to do?
I am thinking of things like:
- How to find out who her friends are so they can be contacted when she passes
- how to find out what she wants for her funeral
- how to know if there are gifts she wants to pass on to specific people
- how to know where her will is (if she has one)
- how to deal with creditors (YIKES!)

Fortunately, she lives in subsidized senior housing, so the director will probably be able to answer some questions. But she's not an end-of-life counselor; I don't want to take up all of her time sorting out my mom's affairs.

Is there a big book out there -- "How to do your parent's death" -- that I don't know about?

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1. Another important aspect is to inventory the assets - real property, vehicles, financials (mutuals, stocks, bonds, CDs, checking and savings accounts). It would probably be helpful to inventory them all together - with information on how they're titled, who the holders are (banks, brokerage, mutual companies), account numbers, contact information, etc. Depending on how they're titled, the holdlers might have to be notified on death. It also helps inventory how many copies of the Death Certficiate you'll need.

2. Does she send out holiday cards (Christmas or other holiday), birthday cards? Does she get any? Inventory those as well so you'll have all the contact information available quickly.

3. Family: even if you know them well, it doesn't hurt to make another inventory so you can quickly contact them either by phone or in a family e-mail.

4. Creditors: guess what? You can also inventory them. Utilities, credit card holdlers, mortgagee(s), medical professionals. I just called the medical people when my mother and sister died; there were a few outstanding bills which they just voluntarily wrote off.

If there's a mortgage or HELOC on her home, those would be a little bit more complicated to handle. Notify them first and continue the house payments if there are adequate funds in her estate; let them know you'll be selling the house (assuming there's no Medicaid lien potential) or moving there, or whatever, so they know what your intentions are.

5. Other personal information: Besides SS, include Medicare and any supplemental policy numbers. If you can find the Medicare Explanation of Benefits, that will help assemble a list of medical people with whom she's treated.
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You touched on the main points. The first thing I did when I arrived was get them to do a revised will. The other was not relevant anymore, since one child had died, the other was no longer in school, some property had been sold, and their house was being left to me. When they did their wills, they also did their advance directives, which included the POAs and "living will." Then they bought prepaid funeral plans. My father didn't want a service, but my mother later insisted we have one for him. So we put one together, followed by a reception that was done at the funeral home. The funeral home made it so easy for us in handling all the technicalities of my father's death. My mother wants the same service as my father, so we'll go through it again when she passes (if I'm still alive).

You'll have to consider if cemetery plots will be needed or if ashes will be scattered.

The executor of the will will be responsible for probating the will and debt resolution. The executor should be chosen carefully, since they will have much responsibility if there is an estate of any size. If there is a lot of money, it would be good to consult an attorney well versed in elder affairs to see what the best way to handle things would be. If there isn't a lot of money, good common sense would probably be enough.

This is a huge question. I didn't find any problems with handling things for my father. I credit the funeral home for helping things go so smoothly. It was money well spent. My mother's death will be more difficult, since there are four heirs, instead of transfer to a spouse. I also worry that the executor -- my brother -- may not want to deal with things promptly. We'll see how it goes when we get there.
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Ask mom while you still can tell you, what she wants. Where contact info for friends are. Does she want burial or cremation. Where? What songs does she want sung at service? Does she have a will? What assets and things does she have to pass on? Where are they? Who does she want to get what? Who does she want as pallbearers?
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