When thinking of estate planning, many people think only about drafting a will. But a comprehensive estate plan can include many components, such as advanced health care directives. Advanced health care directives are legal documents aimed at ensuring a person’s wishes are being fulfilled even when they are unable to make an independent decision due to their advanced age or poor health. Many people may be familiar with an advanced directive known as a Do Not Resuscitate order, however this article will focus on two other common forms of advanced care directives in New York State: living wills and health care proxies.
A living will is a legal document which states an individual’s wishes during the last stages of life. The living will can spring into effect when a person is unable to make their own health care decisions. That determination is usually made by a doctor. A living will can provide a health care agent or other family members with guidance when seeking to make health care decisions in line with an individual’s wishes. There is no standard form for these directives. An individual may seek the directives drafted by an attorney. The living will can either be drafted from scratch, or the instructions can be placed in a health care proxy.
A health care proxy allows an individual to choose the health care agent(s) who can make decisions on their behalf when they are unable to make health care decisions themselves. In New York, the directive may come into effect when a minimum of two doctors of the individual are of the opinion that the person who made the proxy is unable to make an independent decision. New York State provides a standard format for a health care proxy; however this directive can also be drafted by an attorney. The completed proxy should then be shared with the health care agents, family members, and doctors that are providing care.
Estate planning is often more complex than just drafting a will. If you want to write a will and explore other estate planning options, please call the experienced attorneys at Wingate, Kearney & Cullen, LLP. We have assisted and advised clients with asset planning and the transfer of wealth and made sure their needs are provided for their entire life. With law offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, New York, and Melville, New York, our lawyers are available to assist residents of the five boroughs of New York City and Nassau and Suffolk County on Long Island with their estate planning needs. If you are looking to develop your own comprehensive estate plan, call (718) 852-5900.