Practical Tip: Use your Phone’s Camera for Record-Keeping
|Ashley Meier Barlow. Provided.|
My grandma was one of the coolest ladies ever. She was practical, witty, efficient, charming, and yet still somehow so warm and inviting. I’m certain I don’t emulate her characteristics with as much grace as she had, but she, my mom, and my aunts are my standard. It’s therefore no surprise that I preach practicality and efficiency daily in my office.
As I counsel my clients, I keep mental lists of their practical questions. Where do I keep my living will? Should I tell my children that I have a final power of attorney or just keep it in case of emergency? How do people store all of this paperwork? Sometimes practicality strikes, and I have a unique and decent idea… in this case, use your phone.
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I have no idea how to operate half of the apps that came on my phone, and I have very little interest in adding new apps, but I sure know how to use the camera, and that camera can be very useful for practical document storage. How many times have you been pulled over and haven’t had your proof of insurance in your glovebox? What if you’ve left your wallet in your diaperbag for a routine doctor’s appointment?
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Make use of your phone’s camera to store the following information in your camera roll for convenience:
1. Proof of car insurance: You get new cards year after year, and it’s hard to keep up with them. The police always want to see them when they pull you over. If you can’t find the original card, a picture substitute is better than nothing!
2. Driver’s license: Having a photo of your license is helpful in circumstances other than just traffic stops. You sometimes need your driver’s license number on applications, you may need to know the expiration date, and the picture may help identify you in case of an emergency.
3. License plate: How many times have you parked at a public building, walked all the way in to the building to apply for the parking pass, and had to walk all the way back for your license plate number?! Taking a picture will save you a lot of trips! Plus, if you have multiple cars, you may need the numbers on a car that is at home.plate
4. Living Wills, Health Care Powers of Attorney, HIPAA Authorizations: These documents are only good if you can tender them to someone. If you are in an accident, and your health care delegate or attorney in fact arrives at the hospital with no paperwork, that person will not have access to you or your care until he or she can supply the documentation. If it is on your phone, there’s a lesser chance of delay. As an aside, you can also file the paperwork at the hospital in advance. Simply go to your local hospital’s registration desk and ask them to scan your estate planning documents into your file.
5. Health insurance cards: If you have a photo of the front and back of your card, you’ll be sure to always have this information handy.
6. Your medicine bottles: Every doctor you see needs an updated list of prescriptions you take at every visit. Rather than carrying that list in your wallet (or in addition to doing that), snap a picture of each box and bottle so that you know the dosage, the date the last prescription was filled, the pharmacy’s contact information, and the like.
7. Business cards for your doctors, investment advisers, accountants, attorneys, and other professionals: Snapping a picture is way less work that entering them into your contacts, and it’s lighter than carrying the business cards in your wallet.
8. Your Child’s Growth Chart Information: When I leave the pediatrician’s office, I always snap a photo of the print out that contains my children’s current height and weight. That way I always know it when asked by other doctors and pharmacists.
Do you have a picture of anything in your phone for future reference?