March 31, 2013

The Red Folder

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

Do You Have A Red Folder?

Perhaps you read my column last month and decided to move forward with establishing or updating your “Plan:” things like your Will, Living Will/Advance Directives, Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, Life Insurance, Funeral Preferences and so on. Collectively, these items are part of your overall Plan…that’s “Plan,” with a capital P. There may be other considerations, of course, and everyone’s situation will naturally vary somewhat.

That fact notwithstanding, one simple, timeless fact trumps all: 10 out of 10 people die. And your Plan – or lack thereof – will have an impact on the people you care the most about. Whether that impact is positive or negative depends upon how effective your Plan really is.

TO PLAN . . . OR NOT TO PLAN

You’ve probably heard it before: no one plans to fail, they simply fail to plan.

So, you’ve recognized the need and have begun to establish your Plan. Or, perhaps you’ve had a Plan for some time and chose to update it. In either case, good for you – you’re way ahead of most! And your family will surely thank you for it one day.

In either case, it’s vital to give special consideration to the location of some of the time-critical documents in your Plan. If you have established Power of Attorney documents or Health Care Power of Attorney documents, or have outlined instructions in a Living Will/Advance Directive, will your family know where to find these documents when they need them?

DO YOU HAVE A RED FOLDER?

It all started several years ago when Linda and I updated our own Plans. I wanted to make certain that she would know where to find the Power of Attorney documents, the Health Care Power of Attorney documents and the Advance Directives we had established. If ever she had to call 9-1-1 because I had a medical emergency, it’s easy to understand that I wouldn’t be able to grab those documents if I’m the one going in the ambulance!

So, I bought a couple of red file folders. In one, I placed all of my documents; in the other, Linda’s documents. They’re the only two red files in the desk drawer at home. We both know exactly where they are and what they contain. Now that our kids are both adults, they need to know this as well.

If you’ve ever been to one of my “Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know” presentations, you’ve heard me talk about the red folder. It’s a simple but effective way to keep all your important documents in one easy-to-spot location so you can have them at hand when you need them.

TRAVELERS: Take copies of your red folder documents with you when you winter somewhere warm or take a vacation. But always be sure to leave your red folders – and the documents they contain – in one consistent location in your home. Your family will need to know where to find them!

ANOTHER FILING RECOMMENDATION

Any legal documents relating to health care decisions (e.g., Power of Attorney for Health Care/Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will, Advance Directives, etc.) are good additions to your medical file with your primary care doctor. Not only will your doctor appreciate having your written instructions/intentions on file, but this important information will already be in your medical file if you should ever require hospitalization or emergency procedures.

WILL YOUR DOCUMENTS DO WHAT YOU THINK THEY WILL DO?

Another critical part of your Plan has to do with the accuracy and validity of your documents. My recommendation is to always seek qualified legal professionals to prepare your documents. I like to say it this way: “If it doesn’t do what you NEED it to do when you NEED it to do what you GOT it to do…it’s about like not having it at all.” You get the idea.

SO…DO YOU HAVE A RED FOLDER?

Linda and I have placed copies of our health care documents in our medical files with our primary care physicians. Even so, we think our red folders may be the most important files in our desk at home.

So…do YOU have a red folder? Give us a call or stop by. We’ll give you a red folder for your important documents – no cost, no question, no obligation. And, while we’re glad to give you the folder . . . it’s up to you to establish the necessary documentation that will make it the most important file in your desk.

Will YOUR Plan do what you NEED it to do . . . when you NEED it do what you GOT it to do? Don’t plan to fail.

Plan Well. So the people you care the very most about can Remember Well.

David W. Deuth, CFSP, is a funeral director and the owner of Weerts Funeral Home in Davenport.