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Planning For End-Of-Life Care In New York


We all know that no one wants to think about needing end-of-life care. However, discussing that possibility is an essential step in protecting yourself and your family as you age. In addition to signing a trust or a last will and testament, it is strongly recommended that you have what are known “advance directives.” We are talking about a healthcare proxy and a living will. The former is not just an end-of-life documents and the latter ensures your wishes for end-of-life care are recorded. If you want to make your wishes known, then have these documents drawn up by one of our attorneys in Westchester or Putnam County.

Living Wills

As of this writing, New York does not have a specific statute governing living wills. However, they are still generally accepted as valid. The court cases essentially state that, if a competent adult articulates their wishes in a “clear and convincing manner” (such as in a document “like a Living Will”), it will be considered legal. ‘Clear and convincing’ is a legal standard of evidence that, more or less, means ‘more likely than not to be factual.’

While it is not strictly necessary to enlist an attorney to craft a living will, it is highly recommended. The right attorney can help choose the clearest possible language that communicates your wishes clearly.  Such clarity can save considerable time and heartache down the road if questions or disagreements arise between competing family members. It is important to note that living wills can be revoked or changed, but ensuring that your wishes are clearly communicated can make that less necessary.

Choosing A Healthcare Proxy

A living will is a document conveying your wishes regarding end-of-life care such as cardiac resuscitation. In order to ensure that medical professionals hear your wishes, you need to appoint a healthcare proxy. Your healthcare proxy, also called a healthcare agent by some, is the person who can convey your medical wishes in case you become unable to advocate for yourself. Healthcare proxy designations only become valid IF two different doctors concur that you can no longer communicate your wishes on your own.

A healthcare proxy can be a source of comfort, because it means that a trusted person will be available to ensure you are protected in your most vulnerable moments. For those not at comfortable, it still can help them to know that they are the one who decides how much power a healthcare proxy will have. State law allows the person signing such a document to grant power to make only a few decisions, or all of them, or somewhere in between. It is a flexible document that works in many different situations.

Call A Westchester or Putnam County Elder Law Attorney

Discussing end-of-life care can be a difficult conversation for everyone involved, but it is almost always better for families to have a plan in place should things take a turn for the worse. A Westchester County elder law attorney from Meyer & Spencer, PC can help to smooth out the process, ensuring that your wishes are respected and your loved ones can rest easier knowing you are protected. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.



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