LegalVault Blog

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.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Virtual Legacy Planning: It’s not an option, it’s a necessity

After one’s passing, the family generally starts the difficult, and time consuming, process of cleaning up and sorting the personal belongings of the deceased. Much of this time is spent organizing and remembering this person’s life, but it is also a time of discovery.  Bank statements are found, old photos collected and letters to relatives uncovered. All of these items serve to assist with the distribution of remaining assets and also enhance the preservation of one’s legacy. But what if all of these items are stored online? With the growing popularity of email correspondence, online banking, social media sites, online trading, photo-sharing sites, online bill-pay and blogs, this is increasingly the case.

So what happens to all of these accounts when you die? Well it really depends. Some internet sites have provisions in place that allow a relative to gain access once they present the appropriate documentation while others prohibit (or make it virtually impossible) for loved ones to take control of the account. In these cases valuable information pertaining to your assets and legacy are lost.

As estate planning attorneys, you seek to protect your client’s wealth, property and legacy for generations to follow. With many of these items now stored online, it is imperative that this information be included in every estate plan you create. Many attorneys simply request that each client provide them with a list of online accounts  and placed this document in the client’s folder  but this method is far from secure and can easily become outdated.

LegalVault provides a secure method of storing online account information for your clients to ensure that their virtual legacies are properly cared for. With the ability to add an unlimited number of accounts including the URL of the login page, username and password, clients can have peace of mind knowing that the individuals they designate will have access to vital information, photos and emails after their passing. In the event that a new online account is created or a password changed, a client can log right into his or her account to make sure this information is updated right away. Long gone are the days of storing bank statements, love-letters and photos  in a shoebox under the bed but that doesn’t mean that these details and mementos can’t be properly preserved and cherished by those left behind—only now its online.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Electronic Storage Is Not Just for Health Care Directives Anymore

Storing health care directives for clients is not a new concept. For several years, various companies have provided this service to law firms, allowing them to fax in their clients’ health care directives to be stored for access by medical personnel in emergency situations. This service is undoubtedly valuable but fails to provide the complete package to law firms…allowing them to upload, exchange and store health care and non-health care related documents with clients.

LegalVault® has all of the perks of the traditional storage systems but can also house your clients’ non-medical information. In just a few minutes, your clients can have access to their most important documents right from your firm’s website.

We are occasionally asked why this is necessary and we could go on for hours but here are just a few examples of when such technology might come in handy from your clients:

  • A client learns that he will need emergency surgery late one evening, but does not have time to get to the safety deposit box where the originals are stored and your office is closed for the weekend. With LegalVault®, he can always log right in to obtain health care directives on the spot.  
  • One of your clients is travelling and his passport is lost. He previously uploaded a copy of the document to his LegalVault account allowing him to login and download the file to present to the local embassy.
  • A client wants to send you her 2009 tax return for review but does not feel comfortable emailing over a copy. She can simply login to her LegalVault® account and upload a copy of the document for secure exchange with your office.
  • One of your older clients is visiting an adult son out of state. She planned to discuss her recently completed estate plan with him and give him a copy for safekeeping but forgot to pack the documents. With just a few clicks, she can access all of her planning documents and have that important conversation with him regarding her end of life wishes and the distribution of her estate after her passing.

We can all think of situations where we needed a document that was not readily accessible. These situations are stressful but, with new technology, they can be easily avoided. With LegalVault®, you can make sure your clients are always prepared with all of their legal documents securely stored with a company they trust--your law firm.

Monday, March 1, 2010

LegalVault--The perfect accessory to any maintenance plan.

As all estate planning attorneys will attest, estate plans must be continually updated as financial and family circumstances change. To meet this ongoing need, many estate planning law firms offer a maintenance program for their clients to ensure all documents are up to date and continue to meet individual needs as well as changes in state and federal laws. 

While the specifics of a maintenance program can differ from firm to firm, most generally include an annual review of all documents, any necessary amendments to the documents, free workshops and phone consultations to address any concerns clients may have.

If your firm offers such a maintenance plan, LegalVault® is well suited to work with you and your clients in the exchange and storage of estate planning documents. Here are just a few ways in which this advanced document storage system may help you offer more value and convenience to your clients:

Secure Document Exchange All Year Round
If a client’s financial situation does change, he or she will have to send you new documentation which may include tax returns, account statements, asset summaries, etc. Of course, they may submit the information via fax or email but these methods are far from secure and should not be relied on when transmitting highly confidential information. 

With LegalVault®, your clients may easily log in to their secure account right through your firm’s website and upload any documents. As soon as the upload has been completed, your firm will receive email notification allowing you to log in to your Client Manager and safely download the document. 

Convenient Retrieval of Amended Documents In Just Minutes
When you update your clients plan, you will most likely provide them with updated copies of the documents for their records. This can easily be done electronically using LegalVault®. Uploading a document takes less than a minute and your clients can easily download these items at anytime from any location by logging into their LegalVault® accounts.

Flexible Healthcare Wallet Card Options
LegalVault® also allows you to store healthcare directives and critical medical information for all subscribers. Should one of your clients require emergency medical care, they can present the treating healthcare professional with a personalized wallet card with emergency contact, medical information and detailed instructions on accessing healthcare directives online or via fax.

Over time, emergency contacts, medical conditions and healthcare directives inevitably change; LegalVault® allows you or your clients to easily make these changes and even gives you the ability to print an updated card right from the comfort of your office at no extra charge. Each card contains your firm’s logo to make sure that your firm and this valuable service you offer remains on your clients’ minds.

Offering convenience, peace of mind, and security, LegalVault® is the perfect accessory to any Maintenance Plan. Contact us to learn more about incorporating this valuable tool into your practice.

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