Money, Love & Legacy Resources

In case of illness, emergency or death, the last thing children should have to deal with is confusion about financial, legal, medical, and end-of-life preferences that they did not know about. At a time of crisis or grief, the ability to think clearly is severely compromised. It’s hard to make decisions about anything. It’s even harder to try to find papers and records that could easily, with a little bit of planning and forethought, have been gathered and catalogued in advance.

It is an act of love for parents to provide their adult chidren with the information they need to help them as they age. The best way to do this is keep the information in one place. I like to think of this as a Legacy Binder.

There are commercial binders for this purpose such as Vital Records PortaVault ( with pre-labeled tabs and document pockets for organizing your records and papers. You can also make your own binder and insert tabbed sheets for each category. The important thing is to have a system that you can easily update if any information changes. For everyone’s protection, make sure that any changes are noted and included in the appropriate section in the binder.

Adult children should know where this binder is kept. Under no circumstances should it be stored in a safety deposit box, as loved ones may need access to the information outside of banking hours. If parents don’t want to disclose financial information, they should at least have the financial and legal contacts listed in case the children need them. Funeral preferences should be readily available because this is the first thing children will have to deal with. You can keep the binder in a fireproof safe as long as you have the combination. If you choose to keep the originals in a safety deposit box, be sure adult children are authorized to enter it.

Resource links:


The following sites are recommended by Paula Span who writes The New Old Age blog at the the NY Times.Her personal website is



Family Caregiver Alliance

Strength for Caring

The Eldercare Locator (from the U.S. Administration on Aging)

National Family Caregivers Association

For services at home:
Meals on Wheels Association of America


National Adult Day Services Association


For information about senior facilities and residences:
Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living


National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform

American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA)


To find professionals:
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers


National Senior Citizens Law Center


For information on hospice and end of life care:
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

877-658-8898 (Spanish)