Seniors & Aging: Emergency Planner – What If?

I have heard the expression “I wish everything was summarized in one place” far too often in my line of work assisting people in their life transitions. It may be due to the death of a spouse or a loved one. It could also be an unforeseen event due to health reasons (i.e. stroke, heart attack, accident, etc.) or cognitive decline (i.e. Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia).

The creation of an Emergency Planner summarizing important documents and information is highly recommended for everyone regardless of age or health status. Here is a list of some of the more important documents that should be accounted for:

Financial information

Summarize a list of bank accounts, investments, RRSP’s, TFSA’s, mortgage, credit cards, lines of credit and any other financial data. Provide contact information for your financial advisor, accountant and banks. And now a tough one - is there secret money stashed away for a rainy day? It’s amazing how common this is as I see it time and time again when working with families that are downsizing from the family home.


Life, long term care and disability insurance are popular insurance tools that should be summarized as well as a list of beneficiaries. Other insurance documents should also be included such as health, group, home, fire and automobile. Do you have an insurance broker that can assist with providing this information?


Wills, power of attorney, protection mandates and trusts are important legal documents. Where can these be accessed? Outline contact information for your lawyer or notary.

Digital Assets

This is an increasingly popular yet challenging issue for many families. It is important to take stock of everything digital. You can start by compiling user names and passwords for all social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and the vast array of other web applications. There may be several on line accounts with personal and credit card information such as Amazon, PayPal, Ebay and others. How about a summary of any email accounts you have created? In addition, a popular issue is trying to find where files are stored with all your photographs and videos. I have had many clients tell me these are much more important to access than anything else on the list. We’re talking your memories here which have far greater worth than tangible items.

Medical Information

Summarize the names and contact information of your doctors, specialists, medical files, pharmacy and list of medications. Do you wish to donate your organs? Make your wishes known to family members and loved ones.

Ideally, this valuable information should be kept in a couple of secured places such as your computer and a USB key in a fireproof safe. Some families will even keep it in a safety deposit box. It takes a leap of faith to compile all this information in one place and provide it to a trusted loved one. It requires some work so try tackling it one section at a time. Let’s hope you won’t need to access this information however you will be thankful you did if ever it is required.

Matt Del Vecchio is the founder and president of Lianas Services, a company that assists families in retirement home search and transition support.  He is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA).  He is also the host of “Life Unrehearsed” on CJAD800 which is aired every Sunday at 4:00pm.  Matt can be reached at

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