LegalVault Blog

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Key to Emergency Preparedness? Advance Directives

Many people carry around a paper with emergency contacts or have an ICE entry in their cell phones. With this small step, they have peace of mind; should something happen to them, their loved ones would be notified, but would they know how to best handle the situation? The reality is that while contact information is valuable, it is only one step towards emergency preparedness. It’s also important that you provide your friends and relatives with instructions on how you want to be treated, should you become seriously ill or incapacitated.

Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to detail your preferred end of life treatment plan. A living will can be used to tell your relatives when life-sustaining care should be administered and outlines if there are any instances when you would prefer that treatment be withheld. You can also spell out your wishes with respect to preferred facilities where you wish to receive treatment or whether you would prefer to remain in your home.  An attorney can help you identify possible scenarios and craft a document which outlines your wishes and provides clear instructions for those loved ones listed as your emergency contacts.

All adults should also prepare a health care power of attorney which authorizes an individual (s) the power to make medical decisions for you, if you are unable to do so. This person(s) is known as your proxy and should be aware of your long-term care wishes and objectives, and feel comfortable making these decisions on your behalf. 

Adults should also execute a HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form (commonly referred to as a HIPAA Release) which allows covered entities (hospitals, nursing homes, doctors) to release confidential health information to individuals named in the document. While you may have just a single person acting as your power of attorney, you may want additional relatives such as siblings or grandchildren kept in the loop about your health. All of these individuals should be named accordingly.

Depending on your goals, your estate planning attorney might also recommend an anatomical gift form which allows you to donate all, or just some, of your organs after your passing.

By taking the steps to craft these documents, you are making certain that not only will a doctor know who to call in the event of an emergency but that your loved ones will understand your wishes and have confidence in their decisions concerning your treatment; this is ultimate peace of mind for both you and your trusted friends or relatives who have been given a tremendous amount of responsibility. With LegalVault, these documents can be accessed 24/7/365.

 


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Who Uses LegalVault?

LegalVault is a service that was designed to serve estate planning firms and their clients. We are often asked what our average user looks like. Most are quick to assume that it is the large law firms that charge top dollar for their estate planning services. They also assume that most users are seniors. Both of these assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth.

In reality, our Sponsoring Law Firms vary greatly in terms of size and location. Some are solo practitioners who understand the value of digital storage and emergency access, and know that a service like LegalVault is a tremendous resource. Others are estate planning practice groups from very large firms who are also continually looking for innovative solutions that provide additional value to clients even after the estate planning process has been completed.

In terms of users, our client base consists of men and women of all ages, not just seniors. LegalVault is a great resource for college students who are venturing away from home for the first time and want their parents notified immediately in the event of an emergency. Others are young adults who want to make certain their children are taken care of and others are seniors who are spending their golden years travelling the world and find comfort in LegalVault, knowing their important documents are just a click away.

Interested in learning more about this great service and whether it is right fit for your law firm or family? Contact us today.


 


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

You Signed Up for LegalVault, Now What?

Your estate planning attorney has enrolled you in LegalVault and now you’re wondering what steps you should take to get the most out of your subscription. Below you’ll find some tips for making sure your account serves as a valuable resource for you and your loved ones:

  1. Place your emergency access card in your wallet As soon as you receive your emergency access wallet card, be sure to place it beside your photo id or health insurance card in your wallet. You should have also been provided with a sticker to place on your driver’s license to alert healthcare providers of this card and 24/7 access to your medical information and advance directives.

  2. Log into your account and make sure everything is correct

    Once your estate planning attorney has provided you with your login credentials, sign into your LegalVault account and make sure that all of the stored information including emergency contacts, allergies, medications and physician information is up to date. In some cases, your attorney may ask that you complete these sections on your own. LegalVault is very easy to use and adding this information will only take you a few minutes. You can also upload legal documents or personal notes to loved ones. Once added, these documents will remain securely stored in your account so you can access them at any time.

  3. Tell your loved ones about LegalVault One of the great features of LegalVault is post-mortem access that you can give to loved ones, sparing them from the troubling treasure hunt that often occurs after one passes away. Be sure to discuss this account with those relatives listed so they know this resource is available to them in the event that you become incapacitated or pass away suddenly.

  4. Set a review reminder Over time, you will likely need to make updates to your LegalVault account. Users often add new medications, change their primary physicians and update the phone numbers of emergency contacts. Make it a point to schedule regular reviews of your LegalVault account to ensure all stored information is up to date. To assist with the legal documents, which can also become outdated with life changes, schedule an annual review with your estate planning attorney. 

To get started, simply log into your account online  or contact your sponsoring law firm for more information. 


Monday, September 21, 2015

One iPhone Feature May Help Doctors Find Your LegalVault Information Much Faster

Last year, Apple introduced a digital Medical ID for iPhone users with the rollout of the iOS 8 mobile operating system. This feature, which is part of the phone’s default Health App, allows users to store key medical information on the device, including medical conditions, medical notes, allergies, medications, emergency contact, blood type, height and weight. This information can be shown even if the phone is locked giving healthcare providers immediate access in the event of an emergency.

While this app may help in true emergency situations, it isn’t without its risks. Should you lose your phone, the recipient will be able to easily see this information. In using LegalVault in conjuction with this app             , however, you may be able to add another level of protection while still reaping the benefits of the app. Much like the app, LegalVault stores all of your healthcare data (and important documents) on a secure server. Rather than post all of these details to your phone, consider using the app to contain one emergency contact and a single note to providers explaining that they should check your wallet for your LegalVault card. Even if your phone is left on a counter at the local coffee shop, the finder won’t be able to access this data without the card which is safely tucked away in your wallet. This two-step process ensures extra security while helping to guide healthcare providers to LegalVault, the ultimate resource where they can access your healthcare directives and critical information all in one central location.

Unlike the app, LegalVault also notifies you whenever an individual or facility has accessed your confidential medical data, giving you greater control and peace of mind.  


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Where are your advance directives?

A recent article in the New York Times highlights two major problems with advance directives: 1) the existence of these legal documents is often not known about by medical professionals or loved ones (and even if it is, the physical location of these might not be known) and 2) these documents can be rather ambiguous with vague or outdated language.

The author of the piece tells a troubling tale of an older gentleman suffering from dementia who had created an advance directive years earlier where he stated that while he wanted to remain comfortable, he did not want any “heroic” measures to save his life. Years after his advance directive was filed, the gentleman was hospitalized for a nosebleed and was later put on a ventilator and given a feeding tube for survival. These drastic measures seem to contradict the patient’s wishes, so why on earth were these treatments administered?

The answer is simple – his advance directive was buried away in his medical chart and none of his early doctors had noticed it, and his son who was calling the shots knew nothing of his fathers’ wishes.

This is an all too common scenario in emergency rooms where the goal of healthcare professionals is to keep patients alive and, without the proper paperwork, doctors are required by standing orders to take all necessary steps to do just that.

As an attorney, you stress the value of advance directives but you know all too well that they are only useful when they are accessible even before medical treatment commences. What tools do you provide to ensure that your clients’ doctors, and their loved ones, have access to these important documents in the event of an emergency?

LegalVault is a great tool which allows you to securely store all of your clients’ advance directives and estate planning documents. Here’s how it works:

  1. You create a secure account for each one of your clients.
  2. You upload all of the signed estate planning documents that you’ve prepared for your clients.
  3. LegalVault sends out an Emergency Access Wallet Card which contains instructions for healthcare providers on accessing healthcare-related documents online or via a 24/7 fax back service. This durable card also features your firm’s logo and contact information so your name becomes synonymous with peace of mind.
  4. Your clients can log in to their accounts to share documents with your firm and even upload copies of family keepsakes (photos, home videos, letters to children) to ensure these are passed down to younger generations.

Once an account has been created, LegalVault also provides your firm with a quick one-touch physician notification system which allows your firm to send a notice to your client’s primary care provider informing him or her of this invaluable service and the storage of advance directives. This ensures that a client’s important planning documents never fall to the back of a medical chart where they go unnoticed for weeks. 


Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Great Resource for Athletes

If you’ve participated in an organized race in the past few years, you were likely given a bib with your race number for easy tracking.  You may not have realized that the back of your bib has another purpose; it often contains a form where you are asked to include the name and phone number of an emergency contact. The same is common at ski resorts where skiers are asked to provide the facility with this important information, just in case. But what happens if tragedy strikes, and your emergency contact can’t be reached?

LegalVault is a great resource for active children and adults. While most individuals don’t carry their wallets during a race or as they head down the slopes, the LegalVault Emergency Access Wallet Card can easily fit in one’s pocket or activity belt (or be taped to the back of a bib), and it is even water resistant. This card contains contact information for several individuals (which is helpful in case your first choice can’t be reached), allergies, a special note and most importantly instructions on how healthcare providers may retrieve your advance directives and a full list of medical conditions and medications being taken.

To find an attorney in your area who offers this valuable service, check out our attorney finder tool


Thursday, October 23, 2014

HIPAA – Not a covered entity but compliant by choice

In 1996, President Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act into law, establishing national standards for electronic health care transactions. The law sets very strict rules as to how medical records are to be handled to safeguard patients’ privacy. This privacy rule applies to “covered entities”; these include:

  • Health plans (insurance providers)
  • Health care clearinghouses (these may be public or private entities that process or facilitate the processing of health information received from another entity)
  • Health care providers

While LegalVault is not a “covered entity”, we’ve elected to be HIPAA-compliant, taking every precaution to ensure our users’ stored healthcare information is secure. In addition to highly sophisticated architecture (including a HIPAA-Compliant Socket Layer (SSL) connection), the LegalVault team is well-versed in regulations and works collectively to keep your data private.

Contact us today to schedule your LegalVault demo, and see why hundreds of law firms have entrusted LegalVault with their clients’ most important documents. 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Get Them Coming Back to Your Website

Many attorneys spend thousands of dollars each year to drive traffic to their websites, both in the form of new and return visitors. They invest in expensive Pay per Click campaigns, advertise in the local newspaper and write weekly articles to keep content fresh and encourage visitors to return (and tell their friends). While LegalVault’s primary goal is not to drive people to your website, it is a nice fringe benefit. You see, once your firm signs up for LegalVault, clients will be able to access their accounts directly through your website. Each time a client needs to make an update or wants to show a loved one something within the account, they will visit your site. With the right layout and calls to action, you can easily highlight upcoming events, recent publications and even relevant services (like your Maintenance Program) to these visitors.

Similarly, healthcare providers can access a client’s advance directives through your website (listed on the back of the Emergency Access Wallet Cards), bringing new visitors who might not have heard of your firm directly to your virtual storefront. As an estate planning attorney, you might consider developing a section on “Asset Protection Services for Medical Professionals” or a white paper exploring the advance directives used in your state. These types of resources appeal directly to the visitor. And while they likely won’t have time to explore these dedicated pages while they’re treating your client, they very well may bookmark the site to return when they have some personal time to review and digest the information.

When a new visitor arrives at your site, they’ll also see the LegalVault login portal. A supplemental page that explains what this service is and how it delivers great value to your clients can help to distinguish your firm from competitors. LegalVault offers captivating content that helps to educate clients, doctors and prospective clients alike.

To learn more about enhancing your website, and your practice, with LegalVault, contact us at 877-269-0076. 

 


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Always a resource. Never a competitor.

At LegalVault, we work with law firms to help them better serve their clients. Unlike many other advance directive storage systems, we don’t “sell” this service to individuals. Instead, we’ve created a system where sponsoring law firms have the opportunity to enroll and provide this benefit to the individuals and families they serve.

We’re often asked why we don’t market the service directly to individuals. The answer is rather simple; we understand the unique relationship of trust and respect that exists between estate planning attorneys and their clients, and it seems only natural to us that the law firm that delivers peace of mind with the completion of an estate plan, also deliver this service which offers round the clock access to these important documents.

What does this mean for a law firm?
It simply means that we’re not competing against you to get your clients enrolled in the service. It also gives you ultimate flexibility when it comes to how you will bill for the service and incorporate it into your unique estate planning process. And since we do only allow law firms to enroll clients in LegalVault, it is a service that allows you to stand out in the community.

We also understand that the attorney-client relationship can change over the years, and often ends when a client moves away or seeks legal counsel with another firm. When it comes time to renew an account, the law firm can easily do so or for those clients who have moved on to another firm, they can renew directly through LegalVault. When a sponsoring firm no longer works with a former client, and the client elects to renew directly through LegalVault, the firm will no longer have access to the uploaded documents or data.

What does this mean for an individual user?
As an individual, your trusted attorney will work with you to get your account all set up and make sure that your estate planning documents have been uploaded. You will then receive a secure user name and password from the firm allowing you to sign in 24/7/365. If you need help with your account, you can always call on your sponsoring law firm or the LegalVault technical support team.

If you are not yet working with an attorney who offers this great service, you can use our LegalVault locater tool to find a local law firm that provides this service to clients in your community.


Friday, January 31, 2014

LegalVault As A Marketing Tool

Attorneys spend thousands of dollars each year developing marketing campaigns which will help them stand out. While LegalVault is not a marketing tool per se, it does provide firms with a plethora of marketing opportunities. Here’s how:

A Unique Tangible Benefit
Attorneys can deliver a tangible benefit by offering a service like LegalVault through which clients can store all of their most important legal documents, virtual passwords and healthcare directives. Once a client is enrolled in LegalVault, he or she will receive an Emergency Access Wallet Card which allows healthcare providers to access the client’s advance directives 24/7/365. In addition to leaving your office with their completed documents, clients walk away from the estate planning process with their LegalVault account information and peace of mind knowing that, with this investment in the future, their wishes will be honored during their lifetime and beyond.

Top of Mind Marketing Benefits
Many firms struggle to keep in touch with clients once the initial estate planning process is complete. LegalVault provides you with an ongoing strategy to keep you connected to clients. Each time, a client logs into his account through your website or opens his wallet and sees his emergency access wallet card with your firm’s logo, he is reminded of the great value that YOU offer.

Your Name Out in the Medical Community
LegalVault allows you to send out an introductory fax to each of your clients’ physicians in a matter of minutes, generating greater exposure amongst medical providers throughout your community

If you need help leveraging the many marketing benefits of LegalVault, please call on our team of experts.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Notifying Healthcare Providers of Your Wishes

When most people list the benefits of their LegalVaullt subscriptions, emergency access to all of their advance directives and healthcare information is at the top of their lists. This great tool allows enrolled clients to store emergency contacts, allergies, medical conditions, medications, physician contact information and advance directives in one secure online location which can be accessed by a medical professional in the event of an emergency. Very often, we’re asked, “how will a doctor know about my LegalVault account if I’m unable to communicate?”

During the development process, our team spent months perfecting the process, and consulted countless medical professionals to devise an ideal solution. Generally speaking, if you are unable to communicate when taken to a hospital, after an accident or illness, the staff will try to identify you by finding a photo ID in your wallet. To ensure that they are made aware of your LegalVault account once they find your identification, we’ve created durable wallet card stickers which adhere to your driver’s license (and health insurance card) to notify the hospital staff of the account. This sticker tells the staff to look for your LegalVault Emergency Access Wallet Card( which we recommend you keep next to your license).

The Emergency Access Wallet Card has also been optimized for maximum visibility in a crowded wallet with a bright red ribbon which spans the top and prominently states “Emergency Access to Health Care Directives” with a universal caduceus. Upon retrieving the card, the doctor will immediately see two or three emergency contacts whom they may call, a list of any allergies and a personalized note. They will also find instructions on retrieving your complete medical information and advance directives using a 24/7 fax back service or logging in securely online. When accessing your account, the doctor will see only that information which you have uploaded to the healthcare section.

To learn more about having greater peace of mind with 24/7/365 access to your most important healthcare information and advance directives, locate a law firm provider in your area.

 


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