Perhaps the most important and difficult part of estate planning is deciding who is best suited to make financial and medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. Without executing these important documents, your loved ones may be required to petition the Supreme Court to become your guardian in an Article 81 Guardianship Proceeding. This is a difficult and time-consuming process that no one wants to endure. A Long Island advanced directives attorney can help guide you.
What Is an Advanced Directive?
An advanced directive is a collection of legal documents that help your family navigate a medical emergency. Advanced directives take effect if you are unconscious and instruct your doctor about the care you want. They also name a person who will be responsible for making other decisions on your behalf, including managing your affairs.
An advanced directive gives your family a plan in the event of an accident, injury, or illness. No one will be left to make life-altering choices under pressure, and doctors must honor your wishes.A comprehensive advanced directive should include a durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and living will.
Durable Power of Attorney
This is a legal document wherein you appoint a trusted family member or friend to act on your behalf if you are unable to act for yourself. The document should allow this individual the authority to handle all of your financial matters, including; but not limited to real estate, banking, insurance, litigation, government benefits and the power to gift assets.
You may appoint co-agents to act on your behalf or can appoint a successor to act when the primary cannot.
Health Care Proxy
This is a legal document that provides an individual the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. This person should know your wishes about medical treatment and end-of-life decisions that may need to be made.
The New York Health Care Proxy Law gives you the ability to choose someone who will make medical decisions for you if you cannot do so. This can be either a family member or a close friend. This individual is your “agent” under the health care proxy law, and healthcare providers have to follow their directives.
You do not have to give your agent control over all your medical decisions, however. You can choose the level of authority that you give them.
The decisions you make in a health care proxy are critical. Your agent can make choices on your behalf in both permanent and temporary situations. That is why it is vital that you consult with an attorney who can help you determine how to complete this document. A health care proxy is different from a living will. A health care proxy is typically used while you are unconscious or do not have legal capacity. In other words, you aren’t able to make decisions for yourself or are mentally incapacitated.
This is a document that expresses your desires for end-of-life care. Even though you can talk to your family about your wishes, having them in writing helps your healthcare provider and avoids disputes. Without a Living Will, your family may make decisions contrary to your beliefs. The absence of a Living Will can also create issues between family members who have different beliefs.
The Benefits of Living Wills
There are multiple benefits to having a living will that you should be aware of. These include:
- It reduces conflict between family members by making it clear how to handle a medical emergency.
- A will allows your loved ones to understand your end-of-life-care wishes. This can give closure to your family and friends.
- It makes your choices clear to doctors and healthcare professionals. This includes your decisions on intravenous treatment and life-saving treatments like ventilators.
Without a living will, it may be difficult for you to have control over what happens to you in an emergency. This includes medical situations such as needing life support.
All in all, a living will is a way for you to voice your wishes. It allows you to have some peace of mind as well. An experienced attorney can help you to make sure these wishes are clearly written out. That way, they are easily understood and accessible to family and friends.
Decisions Covered by an Advanced Directive
Your advanced directive lays out a set of instructions for your family to follow when you are medically incapacitated or die. A living will and health care proxy communicate your wishes to a doctor. A durable power of attorney enables your personal representative to make financial decisions on your behalf. The types of decisions covered by a durable power of attorney range from paying bills to managing real estate. If you lose the ability to make decisions, your advance directive will tell your family how to carry out your medical treatment and how to manage your finances. An advance directive can be used to convey your preferences and instructions for the following:
- The use of life-sustaining treatments, such as mechanical ventilation or CPR;
- Pain medication and other symptom management techniques;
- Feeding tubes or intravenous fluids;
- Surgery or other medical procedures;
- Hospice or palliative care;
- The location of care, such as at home, in a hospital, or in a nursing facility;
- Paying bills;
- Managing bank accounts;
- Selling or buying property;
- Funeral arrangements; and
An advanced directive allows you to specify your preferences for these and other medical and financial decisions. This ensures that your wishes are followed even if you cannot communicate them. Your advanced directive also helps your family handle your affairs and access your assets so that it is easier for them to take action during a difficult situation.
Why Having an Advanced Directive Is Important
An advanced directive tells your family and doctors what your healthcare preferences are when you cannot make decisions for yourself due to illness or incapacitation. It can give you peace of mind by ensuring that your doctors follow your wishes and that you receive the medical care you want. Without an advanced directive, your loved ones and healthcare providers must make difficult decisions about your care without knowing your preferences. This can lead to uncertainty, conflict, and even legal battles.
An advanced directive can help you avoid unnecessary medical treatments and interventions. For example, when you have a living will that specifies that you do not want a ventilator, your healthcare providers will know not to use this treatment, even if you cannot communicate your wishes.
An advanced directive is a valuable tool for ensuring that your wishes are respected and that you receive the care you want. It is a good idea to discuss your advanced directive with your loved ones and healthcare providers and update it regularly, as your healthcare preferences may change over time.
Talking To Your Family About Your Advanced Directive
Discussing details about your incapacitation or death can be difficult. But talking about your advanced directive with your loved ones is essential. Because your advance directive goes into effect in an emergency, you want them to know that you’ve documented your wishes and for them to understand your wishes. Share a copy with them because you may need them to advocate for you. Choose someone you trust when it comes to your health care proxy and power of attorney. Discuss this choice with the person you want to appoint, and make sure they are willing to serve. Finally, keep your advanced directive updated to ensure it reflects your current wishes as your life changes.
What Does an Advanced Directives Attorney Do?
A Long Island advance directives attorney will help you create an advanced directive that meets your needs. Attorneys are familiar with the laws that affect your legal documents and stay up-to-date on any changes that will affect your plans. Our attorneys will make sure your advanced directive is legally valid in New York. We can help you make informed decisions about your healthcare preferences. We can also help you review and update your advanced directive as needed.
Consult with a Long Island advance directives lawyer if you have specific questions or concerns about your advanced directive or want to ensure that your wishes are legally binding. An attorney can provide the legal knowledge and support you need to create an effective advanced directive.
Why Choose Our Law Firm?
At the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., we have extensive experience in several areas of law. This includes elder law, Medicaid, estate planning and special needs planning, probate, and residential real estate, among others. We represent clients in both New York and New Jersey.
In addition, our attorney is a member of several prominent organizations. These include the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and the Senior Umbrella Network of Nassau County (SUNN). Our lawyer is also a member of the Executive Board and Chairman of the Membership Committee for the Plainview Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce.
We understand how difficult it can be to learn how to execute advanced directives on your own. We are here for you every step of the way. A Long Island advanced directives lawyer can provide the knowledge, expertise, and guidance you need to create advanced directives. We can set up a meeting at your home or our office.