ELITE ADVISOR BEST PRACTICES

New Smartphone App Enables You to Carry Your Health Care Wishes Anywhere

Now family members and medical personnel can find a client’s critical documents quickly and ensure that health care directives are carried out correctly.

By Hyman G. Darling

Key Takeaways:

  • New apps enable individuals and families to store their health care advance directives, living wills and more in their smartphones for on-the-go peace of mind.
  • Health care apps enable family members and medical personnel to have an individual’s health care proxy information readily available in the event of a serious illness.
  • Caution: Some smartphone apps allow users to create documents without an attorney’s advice or review. These new documents could revoke the user’s estate planning documents that were drafted by an attorney.


A relatively new smartphone application produced by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging gives individuals and families the ability to store their own health care advance directives (often called a health proxy for health decisions), living wills and more. Also, health care information and contacts may be stored on either Android or Apple smartphones. This new app is called My Health Care Wishes and is available for download here: www.myhealthcarewishes.org.

Very often an individual becomes ill and no one in the family knows where the documents are stored or what their loved one intended. This application enables approved family members as well as medical personnel to have the individual’s information available in the unfortunate event of a serious illness.

In the past, many states or private enterprises have attempted to store this information, but they have not been very successful because many individuals simply did not want to provide their information ”publicly.“ That’s on top of the inefficiency of anyone else trying to maintain this information in a meaningful format.

But the new apps such as My Health Care Wishes allow your clients to create their own personal registries and update them whenever necessary as well as forward the information to others. Your client may allow a child, family member or other trusted individual to have these documents loaded on their own smartphone and therefore have them available in the event of your client’s illness.

There are different versions of the app available, and while one is free and stores the information, the other version is currently available for $3.99 and allows unlimited storage of all related information, offers the ability to email the stored documents to a health care provider and other family members, and provides additional resources.

One significant caution, though, is that this application may provide the ability to create documents without the advice of a lawyer, and these new documents could revoke your custom- prepared estate planning documents that were drafted by your attorney.

Conclusion

This app does not solve all problems, but it certainly makes available a relatively easy solution for families who wish to have access to information. It may also be helpful to be sure that your attorney receives a copy of these new documents and that all aspects of your plan are properly coordinated and your intentions conveyed.


About the Author

Attorney Hyman G. Darling is chairman of Bacon Wilson, P.C.’s Estate Planning and Elder Law departments. His areas of expertise include all areas of estate planning, probate, and elder law. He is a frequent lecturer on various estate-planning and elder-law topics at local and national levels, and he hosts a popular estate-planning blog at bwlaw.blogs.com/estate_planning_bits. He may be reached at (413) 781-0560 or HDarling@BaconWilson.com