As we gather for the holidays, it may become apparent that an older loved one will need the help of an assisted living or nursing facility at some point in the not-too-distant. You may even be approached by an aging parent or guardian for advice, to become an estate administrator, or to make end-of-life decisions.
While some may consider it a morbid topic for the holidays, New York City probate lawyers urge you to take the obligation as an honor, and to assist in alleviating the burden from a loved one who is seeking to put their affairs in order. The truth of the matter is that discussing Will and estate issues, advanced directives, and other issues can relieve some of the stress from ultimately carrying out the end-of-life decisions of a loved one when the time comes.
The New York Attorney General’s Office offers information on making health care decisions known in advance.
There are various types of advanced directives, including:
-Health care proxy: Allows you to appoint a health-care agent to make decisions in the event you are unable to do so.
-Living Will: Permits you to leave written instructions regarding your end-of-life care.
-A Do Not Resuscitate Order: Permits you to express your wish to forgo CPR to restart your heart or lungs should your breathing or heartbeat stop.
Each of these legal documents has a separate function. One of the most common mistakes is not executing each for its own purpose. Together, a health care proxy and a living will permit you to state your wishes and designate someone to see that they are carried out. A DNR does neither of those things but is a legal document making known your desire to avoid cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Other complicating issues can be failure to specify an alternative health care agent in the event your first choice is unavailable, unwilling or unable to act on your behalf or in the event he or she is disqualified by the court.
These documents should be executed by you and witnesses as required by statute or custom.
Powers-of-attorneys are another option and can include:
-Nondurable Power of Attorney: Allows for the appointment of an agent for a specific task or time period.
-Durable Power of Attorney: Permits an agent to act on your behalf from execution until revocation or death. Care should be taken here because such a document can give a person wide latitude and powers of discretion over your finances, which can lead to the risk of abuse.
New York City Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas handles all types of probate cases, including Wills, estate planning, estate settlement, advanced directives and guardianship matters. Please call me at (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation to discuss your rights.