By Hook Law Center
Many people are aware of the importance of advance medical directives. In the event that you become incapacitated, these directives detail what procedures you do or do not want and who should make decisions for you. Because these are important documents, people often keep copies in safe deposit boxes or leave them in the care of their attorneys, but copies also need to be easily accessible in case of a medical emergency.
In response to this need, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging has introduced an app that allows advance directives to be stored electronically. My Health Care Wishes is a convenient way for you or family members to present such documents to medical professionals via email or Bluetooth. Other information, including contacts and health information, can also be stored within the app. The electronic documents have the same legal authority as the paper originals. The app is available in a basic free version, and a $3.99 version offers additional features. Before launching, the Bar Association tested the app with health insurers and health care providers with solid results.
There are other options to store important documents in accessible electronic formats, including Dropbox and Docubank. Whichever method you use, make your documents available so that they can be useful when a problem appears.
By Hook Law Center
There are many living options available for seniors, and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) have become one of the most attractive. Many retirees consider such communities because they typically provide a range of services in one location, including independent living, adult care facilities and nursing home care. This setup allows seniors to “age in place,” staying in the same community as their needs change. Typically, residents pay an entrance fee (which may be refunded) and monthly charges.
However, consumers should consider the contract terms and other aspects of the community carefully, as there are potential risks involved.
Residents of a California CCRC have filed a class action lawsuit against the company that owns it, claiming misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty. The community, Vi at Palo Alto, charges a high entrance fee that is refunded if the resident moves out or passes away. The refunds naturally become part of the estate plans of the residents. However, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that the company has no reserve fund to pay refunds and has moved money from entrance fees to a parent company that has no responsibility to pay refunds. For its part, the company says the refunds will be paid, and that it follows standard business practices.
The dispute is a reminder that consumers should be fully informed before entering into any long-term care contract. For more information about CCRCs in Virginia, visit the Virginia Division for the Aging, at www.vda.virginia.gov/ccrc.asp.