All About Estates

Medical Emergency Cards – A Logical Follow-up to POAPCs

As regular readers know, we occasionally invite guest bloggers to contribute to All About Estates  Today’s blog was written by Norman Bowley, a partner and chair of the Estates and Succession Group at Low Murchison Radnoff LLP .

In my wallet you will find a plastic card the size of a credit card or driver’s license. It’s all dressed up with our firm’s logo, but it’s what it contains that’s important.

Across the front in English, French and Spanish the card is labelled “Medical Emergency Card”. On the reverse side is my spouse’s cell phone number as well as a note that the card contains a USB key with important information. We give one of these to each of our estate planning clients after they have prepared a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. (We also, with their permission, forward a copy of the POAPC to their family doctor along with other telephone contact information.)

It’s the little USB which is, well, “key”. On my USB key you will find a scan of my POAPC, the cell phone numbers of other family members, contact information for local police, OPP, RCMP, local hospitals and website URLs for Canadian embassy and consular information. The user is also at liberty to include drug or allergy information. The hope is that if I drop on the sidewalk in Saskatoon or Phoenix, medical authorities will have an important leg up in my care.

As you can imagine, all kinds of discussions about privacy and privilege arose before we let these things loose, and yes, the client does “sign off” in clear and blunt language. For the longest time we kept these as a trade secret, a little bit of competitive advantage, but then our collective conscience got the better of us. We have come to think that if it’s a good idea for our clients, it’s a good idea for many more.

In fact, someone has been so bold as to suggest what a good idea it would be if the Government of Ontario had a registry for POAPCs, including uploaded scans, accessible by authorized health and safety personnel by way of a QR code on your driver’s license, which by the way, would only be obtainable or renewable when your POAPC was in the system.

About Gillian Fournie
Gillian is a lawyer with de VRIES LITIGATION LLP. Her practice focuses on the area of trusts and estates litigation.


  1. John Jepson

    February 15, 2017 - 2:13 pm

    Its a heck of an idea but let’s wait until the current incompetent group at Queens Park retires to Florida before entrusting the Ontario Government to organize and operate such an important service.

  2. Doug Puffer

    February 15, 2017 - 2:31 pm

    This is a brilliant idea. Especially the provincial POAPC registry which I think should be extended to wills as well

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