At the completion of my document signing meetings for my estate planning clients, many have questions about what to do with their newly-executed documents. As a result, I spend a good amount of time at the conclusion of these meetings educating my clients about their estate planning “next steps.” Until recently, I always reminded these clients to provide a copy of their Advance Medical Directive (“AMD”) to the person they named as agent, as well as to their doctor. I also encouraged them to bring a copy of their AMD with them to any hospitals they checked into and to keep a copy in their carry-on bag when traveling. All of these reminders were necessary because, until recently, there was no centralized place for my clients to “store” their executed AMDs so that they were reasonably accessible to those who needed to see them.
In 2008, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to create a secure online central registry for advance health care directives. Over the course of the last four years, however, this registry seemed to be more of an aspiration than a reality. That was until December 7, 2011.
On December 7, 2011, the Virginia Department of Health launched its Advance Health Care Directive Registry (the “Registry”). A public-private partnership between the Commonwealth of Virginia, UNIVAL Inc., and Microsoft, the Registry will allow individuals to store their advance medical directives, health care powers of attorney, and organ donation information, among other things, securely online at no cost to the individual. From what I have read over the last few weeks, those who sign up for the registry will be provided with an identification card with their personal registry information, and will be able to share access to their information with anyone they designate.
The web address for the Registry is www.virginiaregistry.org. I intend to try to register my own AMD shortly and will report back in another blog post in the near future.