Creating wills and trusts to distribute your assets after you are gone is only one important part of estate planning. Equally important are protecting your assets and your health during your lifetime. In addition to asset protection planning, having the right combination of advance directives in place will help ensure that important medical decisions are made in accordance with your wishes, should you ever become incapacitated and unable to make or communicate those decisions for yourself. The Hudson Valley estate planning attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP take the time to sit down with you, discuss your desires, explain your options, and draft customized advance directives as part of a comprehensive estate plan.
Important Facts to Know about Advance Directives in New York
Advance directives are legal documents that ensure your wishes are followed if you cannot make decisions for yourself. New York recognizes three types of advance directives. A health care proxy allows you to name a health care agent who will make decisions on your behalf. A living will lets you say what types of care you want and don’t want at the end of life. Finally, a DNR (do not resuscitate) order tells healthcare providers and emergency workers not to revive you if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating (New York recognizes two types of DNR orders: Hospital DNRs and Non-Hospital DNRs). We can help you prepare the right set of advance directives that fulfill your long-term care planning objectives.
Health Care Proxies and Living Wills
The health care agent appointed in your health care proxy has the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. You decide how much authority to grant and what types of decisions they can make for you. You can provide instructions and be as specific as you wish, even providing examples of injuries or medical conditions, or types of procedures you would or wouldn’t want. Doctors and hospitals are required to follow the decisions made by your health care agent as though you had made them yourself.
A health care proxy only becomes effective if you become incapacitated. You can create a health care proxy now but continue to make your own decisions while you are capable, and you can cancel a health care proxy if you later change your mind.
A health care proxy can be used to document wishes or provide instructions regarding organ and tissue donation. Also, it can include instructions to your agent regarding removing or providing life-sustaining treatment. However, a health care agent can’t refuse or consent to IV or tube feeding unless the agent reasonably knows your wishes. A living will can more clearly and directly spell out the answers to these difficult questions and take away any guesswork on the part of the health care agent.
Why Advance Directives are Important
You may feel that advance directives are not necessary because you trust your family to make decisions for you if needed. But family members may not know what you would want in a given situation, or they may disagree among themselves. A health care proxy can avoid conflicts and confusion, while a living will can relieve a loved one of the burden of making an agonizing decision, often in a time-sensitive and highly emotional tragic situation.
Advance directives are legal documents, and you want to know that they will be effective if they are ever needed. For these reasons, it is important to have an experienced New York estate planning attorney draft these documents on your behalf. That way, you can rest assured knowing that all important issues have been addressed, and that your wishes will be carried out as you would want them to be.
Experienced Hudson Valley Estate Planning Attorneys at Your Service
For help with advance directives in the Hudson Valley, call the seasoned and knowledgeable New York estate planning attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP in Kingston at 845-331-4100, or in Marlboro at 845-236-4411.