Estate planning documents can help you protect yourself and your family and spell out your last wishes—but only if they are found!
If your documents are gathering dust in a long-forgotten drawer—or worse, hidden away in a safe to which your family members don’t know the combination—they won’t serve their purpose when needed.
If you are incapacitated, for example, your family will need to access your advance directive (also known as a living will). You won’t be able to tell your family where your documents are and how to access them, which means that your family has to have this information ahead of time.
Unfortunately, it isn’t that uncommon for people to have advance directives and other estate planning documents that their family doesn’t know about.
To combat this problem, the American Bar Association recently developed a smartphone app called My Health Care Wishes.
According to the New York Times, the app allows you to store an advance directive and other documents. When needed, you can present the documents via email or Bluetooth.
The American Bar Association president said of the app, “We’ve tested this with health care providers, family members, health insurers. So far it’s worked well.”
There is both a free version, which lets you store one person’s information, and a paid version costing $3.99 that lets you store unlimited information.
Whether you use this app, an online service such as DocuBank or MyDirectives, or another method, it’s crucial that your family can access your documents in the event of a tragedy. Most of these services are easy and simple to use, and the benefits are enormous.
If your estate planning documents aren’t found, it will be as though you didn’t create them at all—leaving you at risk to not having your wishes honored.