Maintaining copies and files of important records, including medical, legal, financial, tax, and insurance paperwork and documents. This is important for planning for the future as well as preparing for sudden and unexpected changes in the condition of the person with Parkinson’s. Most people have systems of some sort for keeping track of bills, payments, tax documents, and related records. Key family members or friends should know where records and documents are located and have access to them should the need arise. This is especially critical when the person who has Parkinson’s is the one who has been responsible for maintaining records. Among many couples, one person handles finances and related records and the other person knows little about them. As difficult as it can be to share or give up this responsibility, it often creates unnecessary hardship when no one else knows where records are or how they are managed.
Get copies of all medical records from each doctor seen and each hospital or clinic that performs procedures or tests. Some providers charge a fee for making copies; many make one copy available at no charge. Individuals are entitled to copies of their medical records. When consulting new doctors, take copies of the records but do not give up the only copy. It is a good idea to keep lifelong medical records. As the medical environment continually changes as new treatment options become available, knowing what treatments have been tried and whether they were successful is important. A person with Parkinson’s who participates in a clinical research trial should also obtain and keep records related to the study, such as the drugs or procedures that were tested, their effect on symptoms, and any complications that resulted from participation in the study.
Financial and Tax Records
Keep all financial records and tax documents for at least seven to 10 years. These records will be essential for mEdicaid, if that becomes a necessity. Med-icaid requires precise documentation of expenses for the previous three years to determine eligibility; as few people know exactly when they may need Medicare, it is prudent to keep this documentation as complete as possible. The burden of proof is on the person with Parkinson’s to demonstrate that he or she meets Medicaid requirements for income as well as spend down. Keep receipts for pharmacy and medical expenses. An accountant or attorney who specializes in estate planning or elder law can provide specific advice about what to keep and how long.
Insurance records should include medical, dental, life, and disability declaration pages; full contracts whenever possible; and documentation related to claims paid and claims rejected. It is also a good idea to keep copies of records related to auto insurance, if the person with Parkinson’s owns a car and still drives, as well as property insurance (homeowner’s or renter’s insurance).
Other Important Documents
Deeds, pension records, bank statements, wills, living trusts, prepaid funeral trusts, and powers of attorney documentation are among the miscellaneous records that should be kept. Wills and records related to funeral plans in particular should be stored in a safe place at home or with a relative, not in a bank safe deposit box. In some states the law requires banks to seal safe deposit boxes until after probate, generally long after the need for these records arises.