Wednesday, June 03, 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it is, the physical location of these might not be known) and 2) these documents can be rather ambiguous with vague or outdated language.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:
- You create a secure account for each one of your clients.
- You upload all of the signed estate planning documents that you’ve prepared for your clients.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
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.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Delivering Tangible Value to Estate Planning Clients
The value of estate planning is largely intangible. After investing time and money in drafting healthcare directives and a comprehensive estate plan, clients don’t walk away with a brand new car or fancy diamond ring. Sadly, most clients never fully recognize the value of an experienced attorney’s advice or the impact of properly-crafted estate plans until they fall ill or experience the passing of a loved one. Many firms spend a great deal of time trying to educate clients, and the public, about the intangible benefits while others try to deliver some tangible value by providing their clients with a branded binder with the signed documents or, for the tech-savvy, a CD with the estate plan so clients can view and save the completed materials electronically.
In addition to professionally packaged estate planning documents, attorneys can also 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. This card, which contains emergency medical information like allergies, contact information, etc, features your firm’s branding so clients are reminded of the great value you offer every time they open their wallets.
With a simple online enrollment process, your firm has ultimate flexibility when it comes to setting up a new account and uploading estate planning documents. Many firms we work with include the enrollment form as part of their intake forms, allowing them to get an account set up right after the initial consultation with the client. With the fastest turnaround time across the industry, firms receive the wallet cards in just a few days, allowing them to have this nice takeaway in time for the signing ceremony. In addition to leaving 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.
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Reconnecting with Past Clients
All estate planning attorneys know that effective estate plans aren’t static. As circumstances change throughout an individual’s lifetime so too must one’s estate plan. Many firms offer maintenance programs to address the evolving needs of clients. Other firms may not have the time or resources needed to develop and implement a maintenance program but nevertheless aim to serve as a continuous resource for clients long after the signing of wills and trusts.
LegalVault is a great way to continuously reconnect with past clients, regardless of whether your firm offers a maintenance program. Each time your client accesses his or her most important documents through your site, you can be certain that they’re reminded of the great value that you provide to clients. The end of a LegalVault subscription also serves as a great opportunity for your firm to connect with clients regarding changes in the laws and an update that a client may not even know they need.
For firms who require assistance reaching out to past clients, we’re pleased to offer LegalVault ReConnect where we’ll do the hard work of following up with past clients for you. Contact us today to learn more about how estate planning firms around the county are using LegalVault to better serve current clients and reconnect with past ones.
Friday, September 07, 2012
What to Do with that Ever-growing Mound of Paper
Over the course of a lifetime, people accumulate important documents and lots of them. Receipts for big sales, deeds, diplomas, contracts, licenses and as one’s family grows, so too does the number of new documents. When children are born, there are a plethora of documents including birth vaccination information. As they enter school, there are school certificates and educational records.
Most people store all of these important documents in a safe deposit box or a file cabinet at home but just finding a single file amongst one’s sea of paper can be troublesome and time-consuming. Enter LegalVault.
LegalVault allows you to store all of your documents, legal and none, securely online. You can access them in a matter of minutes 24/7 from anywhere in the world. It’s safe, it’s convenient and most importantly it gives you peace of mind.
If you’re unsure of what documents you might consider adding to your LegalVault account, review the list below for helpful suggestions.
Inventory of house
Copy of receipts for expensive items
Statements for retirement accounts
List of investments
Letters to loved ones
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Post Mortem Access to Spare Your Loved Ones from a Document Treasure Hunt
It’s an all too common scenario: a loved one passes away rather unexpectedly and the family is left to pick up the pieces. For many families, a time of mourning becomes a time of research and hunting as relatives try to locate important documents, instructions and account information. In the weeks ahead, credit card accounts will need to be closed, cell phone lines deactivated, assets transferred and virtual accounts dismantled. In an effort to help individuals ensure that their loved ones do not have to go on a document treasure-hunt, LegalVault is proud to offer post-mortem access for all accounts.
Accounts holders have the option to add as many friends and relatives to their “Post-mortem Access List.” Upon the death of the account holder, the sponsoring law firm will provide these individuals with all of the documents and information that had been stored in the account. login credentials for each individual listed. It’s important to note that post-mortem access does not allow friends and relatives to remove documents, or edit information, but instead just view the information which had been virtually stored.
By having all of your most important documents stored securely in one central location, you can breathe easier knowing that your loved ones won’t spend the days after your death fretting over the location of your important documents and can instead spend time celebrating your life.
Friday, April 27, 2012
The Perfect Document Exchange System for Law Firms
Most attorneys have had that moment of fear when they hear from a client or opposing counsel that sensitive information was not received. In the panic-stricken minutes that ensue, the attorney runs to check the fax number where the documents were sent or feverishly scrolls through his sent mailbox to ensure the correct email address was used. In the age of auto-fill and technology overload (How often have you chatted on the phone, composed an email and Skyped a colleague in the next room all in a five minute time frame?), mistakes are easily made but when it comes to confidential client information, there is no margin for error.
If you follow trends in legal technology, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the “cloud” and how it is revolutionizing the way law firms store and access documents. Simply defined, cloud storage is a network of virtual pools of storage, generally hosted on a remote server. With the documents being located in the “cloud” as opposed to a local office drive, firms can access the documents at any time and from any location with internet connectivity. More and more firms are getting onboard with cloud storage systems because they allow attorneys to work remotely and even allow for easy access to a document from the courtroom. Cloud solutions are also being hailed as the perfect solution to securely exchange documents with clients since there is less room for human error (no fax number to dial or email address to type).
LegalVault serves as the perfect cloud solution to meet your firm’s document exchange needs. With each client account, the account holder and your firm will have the ability to add documents. Documents added by your firm are visible to the account holder and vice versa. When uploading a file, a client can elect to notify you of the addition so you are kept up-to-date on case files and can login to securely download the document and store it in the client’s folder. Unlike many other cloud solutions, there is no storage limit when it comes to the number or size of files which can be added so LegalVault is the great solution for a simple estate plan or a complicated litigation matter with boxes of evidence. There’s also no limitation on the type of file that can be stored so you (and your clients) can easily upload PDF files, Word Docs, Excel Spreadsheets and even videos or audio files.
For estate planning firms who desire legal document storage as well as advance directive storage and emergency medical access, we offer LegalVault complete. For all other firms, we offer LegalVault Essentials which omits the healthcare component. Contact us today for a full tour of the feature and learn how you can eliminate the uncertainty and anxiety associated with emailing or faxing confidential documents.
Friday, December 30, 2011
We are often asked why LegalVault is needed. We could go on for hours detailing the necessity of keeping all documents in one secure central location but instead we’ve decided to present the perspectives of several firms that offer this great service to their clients. These pieces explain a few of the great benefits of secure document storage with LegalVault:
Attorney Jennifer Deland discusses the benefits of storing your documents online in the event that an emergency should strike. In a blog post entitled “What You Should Take with You When There’s a Fire or Flood”, she details best practices and safeguards that every family should have in place.
The Law Office of Richard C. Pertofsky highlights the need for document storage for same-sex couples in an age of volatile marriage laws in a blog post entitled, “Document Storage for LGBT’s”.
Attorney Peter Lennington discusses the need for advance healthcare directives and where they should be stored in a podcast entitled, “Health Care Directives - What are They? And Why I Might Need One”. This audio file is one in a series discussing Incapacity Planning.
In a blog post entitled “Your Cyber Legacy”, attorney Kyle Krasa describes the need to protect your online legacy and securely store access information for loved ones.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Secure Documents, Secure Keepsakes
Over the past few months, we’ve seen several natural disasters strike various parts of the United States. These floods, tornados and hurricanes have caused mass destruction, damaging homes, cars and most devastatingly, family keepsakes and documents which cannot be replaced. While these disasters are unavoidable, there are simple steps that one can take today to preserve cherished possessions. With the advent of secure document storage systems like LegalVault, account holders can easily store legal documents along with valued family photos, home videos, copies of diplomas and so much more.
Here’s how it works: Once your firm creates an account for a client, they will be given a secure username and password. Your client can then log in 24/7 to upload documents, photos or videos which can be accessed at any time, from anywhere. If the account holder would like to preserve medical results or data, like immunization records, these can be uploaded to the designated medical section which can be accessed by a healthcare provider in the event of a medical emergency.
As an attorney, providing peace of mind to clients is invaluable. In the event of an emergency, they will be able to turn to your firm for convenience and have many of their cherished keepsakes right at their fingertips. Contact us today to learn more about adding this valuable service to your client-centered offerings.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Estate Planning & Document Storage for Same-Sex Couples
In the weeks following a federal judge’s ruling that Proposition 8 violates the constitutional rights of California citizens, the issues of same sex marriage once again dominated headlines around the country. With already 18,000 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in the state, this ruling profoundly affects the legal and financial rights of many and, with an appeal already underway, may ultimately lead to an unprecedented Supreme Court hearing regarding the legality of same-sex unions.
With uncertainty looming, estate planning for same-sex couples continues to be the only way to document preferences and make them legally enforceable. As an attorney, you make certain that your gay and lesbian clients are prepared so if they become disabled and unable to control their finances, they have say over who will step in and make these decisions for them. For most couples, you will prepare a durable (financial) power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will, HIPAA release and wills and/or trusts. In some cases, you may even prepare a domestic -partner agreement, cohabitation agreements and custody agreement to complete the estate plan.
Of these documents, clients are most likely to require emergency access to the healthcare directives (healthcare proxy, living will and HIPAA release). And while attorneys advise clients to keep such documents readily accessible at all times, the need for access to these documents is most acute among non-traditional couples. This is because unlike traditional unions where spouses are routinely bestowed certain rights when visiting each other in the hospital, same-sex couples are often required to produce a health care power of attorney and HIPPA release before they are given any information, access or right to make decisions on behalf of their loved ones. As such, it is important that documents be accessible 24/7.
To ensure that your LGBT clients are protected amidst swirling controversy and volatile marriage laws, offer them secure online document storage. LegalVault allows your clients to store all of their healthcare and legal documents in one central location. By offering secure online document storage, you are continually providing your clients with an invaluable service—access to their documents when they need them most.