What kind of instructions do I need to make?
While naming guardians to care for your loved one is a good start, it is important that you also leave clear and detailed written instructions concerning the type of care you want provided. Otherwise, you risk leaving the guardians in the dark about the responsibilities being entrusted to them. You are the most knowledgeable concerning your loved one's needs and are in the best position to provide these instructions. Needed instructions include the following:
- A summary of your loved one's medical history, medications, physicians, and daily care needs;
- A review of your loved one's daily routine, habits, and likes and dislikes;
- A list of your loved one's friends and their contact information;
- A list of your loved one's favorite hobbies, recreations, clubs, spiritual caregivers, and other organizations that provide assistance;
- A statement of your desires regarding the living arrangements to be provided for your loved ones;
- A statement of the benefits and services (both government and nonprofit) that your loved one is receiving or may be eligible to receive in the future; and
- An explanation of your hopes and dreams for your loved one's future.
By including these detailed instructions in your estate plan, the caregivers you choose will better understand and perform their responsibilities. This will help ensure your loved one continues to receive the same loving care that you have been providing. It is like the passing of a baton - the better the instructions are, the better prepared the new guardians will be when they accept the responsibilities handed over to them. Even great instructions are not enough. You also need to put a sound financial plan in place for the management of the money that will provide financial support for your loved one.