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The mother of a friend of mine died recently at age 93. My friend Judy told me that her mother, a long-time widow, was incredibly organized and one thing she had done years ago was to add Judy's name to her checking account. This proved to be a big help when the older woman had an aneurysm and then a stroke and was hospitalized, because Judy was able to continue paying her mother's bills since her name was also on the checking account.

Other things to do that are helpful: make sure you have on hand your elderly parents' Social Security numbers, living wills if they exist, names of attorney and banker and financial advisor, funeral and burial plans, including any documents showing they are already paid for; the deed to the house and the title for the car.

Judy says it's been a tough time for her family emotionally, but they are all so grateful to her mother for making it as easy as possible on her children.

I think putting together these documents for your children and other family members is a good idea even if you are nowhere near elderly. None of us knows how long we have, and while we all hope to give a good long and healthy life, sometimes it doesn't work out that way. It seems to me to be a good idea to be prepared.

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