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While it’s human nature to avoid thinking about unpleasant subjects, it’s important to take some time to think about what would happen in the event you were no longer able to make decisions because of illness or incapacity.
In this unfortunate event, your loved ones are left to guess what should be done. The result is often guilt, arguments and uncertainty. Further, by not appointing a trusted agent, you leave to chance what doctors and the courts will decide for you.
Instead of placing this insurmountable burden on those you love, it’s best to make your wishes known today with advance directives. At Cona Elder Law, our elder law attorneys on Long Island are experienced in preparing advance directives.
An advance directive is a legal document where you set forth your wishes regarding your medical and financial decisions and where you appoint agents to carry out those wishes. Advance Directives consist of three legal documents: Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, and Living Will.
The Health Care Proxy and Living Will tell your medical providers, your caregivers, and your loved ones the type of care you would like to receive — including if you are no longer able to make medical decisions in the future. The Power of Attorney tells banks, financial institutions, real estate brokers and title companies what you authorize your agent to do on your behalf.
These powerful legal documents will ensure your wishes are carried out to your specifications.
Advance Directives are critical for keeping decision making in your own hands. Without a Power of Attorney, you may not be able to engage in asset protection planning or file for Medicaid benefits should you become ill and in need for Medicaid to cover the costs of your care.
If you don’t have a Health Care Proxy or Living Will, medical providers will make health care and treatment decisions for you, such as nutrition and hydration and end-of-life care. While you may not wish to be kept alive by artificial means if you are in a coma with no chance of recovery, without a Living Will and a Health Care Agent, that this what medical professionals will do.
Advance Directives allow you to:
● Keep control of decision-making
● Appoint trusted agents for health care decisions
● Communicate with doctors
● Appoint trusted agents for financial decisions
● Avoid Court proceedings
● Avoid Guardianships
● Prevent waste of assets
● Allow asset protection planning
● Allow Medicaid planning
● Set up asset protection trusts
● Have peace of mind
Clients and consumers often ask: “Should I contact a New York elder law attorney for making an advance directive?” The answer is Yes!
It is very important that you contact an Elder Law attorney in New York to guide you through the process of completing your advance directives as part of your overall estate plan. Our estate planning attorneys will help you choose the best agent or agents for these important designations, as well as successor (back-up) agents. These can be difficult decisions, where family dynamics compete against practical solutions. That’s where our advance directive lawyers come in. We have over two decades of experience helping family members navigate these outcomes.
Further, the law often changes. Our attorneys at Cona Elder Law will keep you up to date on these changes, how they affect you and what you need to do. By way of example, the Power of Attorney laws changed in the summer of 2021.
The compassionate attorneys at Cona Elder Law have helped thousands of people like you prepare Advance Directives in order to safeguard their well-being. And most importantly, we’ve provided peace of mind to our valued clients and their family members and loves ones.
Your Living Will is an important document drafted to express your end-of-life care wishes. You will specify your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining treatments such as artificial nutrition and hydration, pain management, administration of CPR, and more in your Living Will. This critical document only takes effect in the event you’re in need of life-sustaining medical treatment or are terminally ill.
By executing a Living Will, you set forth now your wishes regarding the types of life-sustaining treatment you would want should you be unable to state your wishes in the future. Without a Living Will, some of the most important and hardest decisions of your life can be left in the hands of your loved ones, which is quite the burden to bear.
A Last Will and Testament is a vital legal document in your estate plan. This critical document serves as the legally binding declaration of who will receive your property following your death. A well-planned Will ensures all of your property is distributed based on your wishes.
Most importantly, it allows you to make bequests however you see fit – whether it’s to your children, friends, or your favorite charity. You can set forth how and when your heirs should inherit so that they, and your money, are protected - from their own creditors, possible divorces, legal or financial troubles and more. In addition, a Will can be helpful for reducing estate taxes and appointing someone as a guardian of any minors or children with special needs.
With a Health Care Proxy, you can choose a loved one, friend, or family member and designate them as the decision maker for your healthcare issues in the event you’re unable to make your own medical decisions. The person you appoint is your authorized healthcare agent.
This person should be someone you trust, who understands your medical wishes for treatment, and who is willing to take responsibility to follow your wishes and act on your behalf. You’ll have the right to change your choices regarding instructions or your agent at any time, as long as you have capacity.
The loss of control over your finances can be very scary and intimidating. However, a Durable Power of Attorney is your best defense — as well as a powerful offensive tool — to protect your integrity and assets. With a Durable Power of Attorney, you can appoint a trusted loved one, family member, or friend to be your financial decision maker and act on your behalf, including if you were to become incapacitated.
Your agent — the individual you choose — will have the authority to handle your income and assets, including real estate transactions, banking matters, pension, Social Security, insurance and other financial matters on your behalf.
Consistently recognized as the top Elder Law and Estate Planning law firm on Long Island, Cona Elder Law has been helping people like you create a plan for your family’s security. Our firm’s reputation is built upon an unwavering commitment to the highest possible level of standards and professional ethics.
For over two decades, Cona Elder Law has helped families make informed choices and decisions surrounding Medicaid planning, advance directives, special needs planning, wealth transfer strategies, estate and tax planning, estate and trust administration as well as estate litigation. We work to help you preserve assets, secure Medicaid benefits, create estate plans, prepare advance directives and much more.
Contact Cona Elder Law today for all your elder law needs!
Advance Directives are crucially important to keeping these critical decisions in your own hands. Your health care wishes are too important to be left to chance or to other people’s decisions for you.
If you don’t have a health care proxy, medical professionals will look to your next-of-kin for decision making, following the Family Health Care Decisions Act. However, this order of agents may not be what you wish. For example, let’s say you are getting divorced but it is not yet final. Your spouse will be first in line to make health care decisions for you until the divorce is final (which in many cases can take YEARS). Next in line is a son or daughter. What if your children are over age 18 but immature? Or worse, what if you are estranged from a child or your children fight over your care? Family fighting over your care can lead to court litigation where a judge or a court-appointed stranger may decide the care you should receive.
Without a Living Will, you could be given medical treatment you don’t want, such as life-prolonging care even if you are in a persistent vegetative state with no chance of recovery. That may not be what you wanted but, if not legally documented, that will be the medical care doctors provide.
A health care provider can reject a Health Care Proxy or Living Will if it is not properly executed, appears to be the result of fraud or coercion or has some other defect in its execution. That is why it is critical that these important legal documents are prepared by an advance directive lawyer like the attorneys at Cona Elder Law.
Everyone over age 18 should have Advance Directives. While assets may be less of a concern, health care is a priority. Did you know that if your child needs medical treatment or is in the emergency room, medical professionals cannot release any information to you once your child is over age 18? And you cannot make any decisions for your child for that matter either. As such, time for a Health Care Proxy and Living Will.
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