What if a tree . . . ?

. . . fell in the forest and nobody and nothing was there to hear it?  That old canard is thought to be a philosophical poser, but more recently has been evolved into arguments for relativism, for anthropogenic creationism, and has even found its way into quantum theory, much like Schrodinger’s cat.

But I’d like to pose a more practical question.  What if you’re bungee-jumping off the Royal Gorge and somebody forgets to tie one end to the bridge?  Oh, sure, you’ve gotten all your estate planning done.  You have a will, a living will (advance medical directive); a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney.  Still, odds are that immediately after impact you’ll not be in shape to tell anybody where they are and who you have appointed.  When the rescue party rappels down to ground zero, who they gonna call?

Even though you have your documents done, and even though you’ve done everything right, including leaving copies of your medical power of attorney with all your providers, and your financial power of attorney with your banking, investment, and financial institutions, right now that’s of little help. Nobody’s there to hear you fall. Your fiduciaries know their role in your plans and have copies of the appropriate documents, but you forgot to file a flight plan with them, reasoning it was just a (wait for it) touch and go. As of now, at least, there is no central database available to the rescue, emergency, or medical authorities telling them who to contact, much less what authorities you gave your fiduciaries or what’s in your advance directive.

Emergency contact information is something you need to have on your person at all times.  And have a back-up, too, just in case your Significant Other jumped with you on the same unsecured bungee line.

Yet, even if the emergency personnel know who to contact, there is no guarantee of immediate contact, and there is nothing legal and in writing authorizing that person to speak for you.  For that to happen, they’re first going to have to find your appointed fiduciary and then that person is going to have to get the documents in some fashion to the on-scene people.  That too is problematic at the bottom of Royal Gorge.

Time is always precious, the more so under such dire circumstances, so instant access can mean everything.  I’ve recently discovered that there are commercial organizations who, for a fee, will digitally store all of your important documents, including not only your powers of attorney, advance directives, insurance and other emergency medical information, but also any medical or physical conditions you might have, such as drug-allergies or diabetes.  They will also store insurance policies, life, medical, auto, your bungee-jumping coach, and the like.  These don’t go to just anybody, but only to those people you authorize to have access in advance.

Just as important these days is your digital property such as your e-mail account, digital banking records, mortgage and term payment, whatever business you may do on-line.  That way people who need that information and who you have pre-authorized to have it are only a call or a click away from getting it to the provider.

This can also work should you achieve “terminal” velocity on the way down, or get the same effect from the sudden deceleration at the bottom.  Your personal representative or executor needs to know where your accounts are and how to get to them.  Having what amounts to a digital personal representative who can step smoothly into your shoes and make sure that bills get paid, accounts get inventoried, and that everything that belongs to you is properly collected and accounted for removes a major uncertainty from estate administration.

Because these are commercial firms, I cannot mention any particular names, but I wanted you folks to know that there are such services and, if you have not already considered that as one way of ensuring that important information gets to the right people at the right time, you do so before the next bungee jump, or in my case before I pretend to  explain the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.