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by: Tehila Mörtl
Throughout our lives there are many decisions that must be made be it if and where to further our education, employment, housing, etc. Advise & Protect Senior Care Consultant Lawyers understand and appreciate that those involving our health and how we wish to die are a fundamental right of each individual and some of the most personal and important decisions one must make and can assist in seeing that an elders final wishes are carried out. By establishing a Living Will in NY, also known as Advance Health Care Directive, one can ensure that his or her medical providers and family members know exactly what end of life decisions to follow and which to avoid should one be unable to speak for themselves. One of the greatest examples is that while some want to prolong their lives by any means necessary, others find more dignity in having medical treatment withheld so that they may be allowed a natural death.
In NY, a living will or advanced health care directive not only advises both medical professionals and family of ones wishes but can also be used to appoint both a primary individual as an agent or proxy and an alternate to speak on the patients behalf should he or she become incapacitated. Those wishing immediate help, please click here for Advise & Protect legal assistance. Otherwise, please continue to review with me how living wills and advance health care directives in NY are comprised.
One of the first considerations is how one wants to live if struck by a terminal illness and what end of life choices one would make. In order to render informed decisions, our lawyers can assist by reviewing the many decisions to be made. Having been through such circumstances with a loved one, I well appreciate not only the importance of such a directive but the peace of mind a living will can provide one’s elder and family members.
Following are but a few of the choices one must consider:
· If it is possible, would one prefer to remain at home or be in a hospital if incapacitated or, more importantly, dying.
· In the event that one’s elder is in a persistent vegetative state or, for instance, is suffering severe dementia, would he or she prefer to have all medical measures (i.e. medication, CPR, feeding tube, fluids) withheld with the exception of pain medication. Many individuals will want to have a Do Not Resuscitate DNR order in place.
· Organ donation
When selecting an individual to serve as one’s agent, it is vital that he or she has the emotional strength to carry out difficult directives, is within close proximity in the event of a prolonged illness and has a strong enough personality and of moral character to enable them to stand up to family members, healthcare providers and hospital personnel if the situation necessitates. Finally, the appointed individual must have sufficient persistence to obtain accurate ongoing information regarding one’s health condition.
Please remember, that in most states a living will must be written, signed, witnessed and notarized in order to ensure that medical providers and institutions follow the patients wishes. If such a document is not present, family members, physicians or medical institutions can make decisions that do not coincide with the patient’s end of life wishes. Further, having an attorney draft the living will ensures that the document meets all state standards required.
When it comes to providing witnesses, individuals who cannot endorse legal documents include heirs, medical or healthcare providers, any individual responsible for the patient’s health care costs, hospital or any other healthcare employees. Keep in mind that such documents require two (2) witnesses and notarization. Once complete, the lawyer will keep a copy while it is also important to provide copies to one’s physicians, hospital(s), designated health care agent, family members and all other advisors. Plus, it is wise to keep not only a copy in one’s own files but a list of individuals and institutions who have been provided a copy. In the event the individual should decide to revoke or change their Living Will, he or she may make whatever changes they deem necessary long as they are mentally capable. Keep in mind that any changes should be included in a new, revised document rather than handwritten notations on original living will. Once changes have been completed and a new document is obtained, it must be witnessed and notarized as the previous one and distributed to the appropriate entities.
In some cases, an individual might not have anyone to appoint as their agent or proxy. Although such a situation is not optimal, having a living will or health care directive in NY will ensure that the patient’s wishes and all other decisions related to their medical care, both physical and mental, are followed.
Selecting and naming an agent does include legal rules and requirements not only in selecting an individual but also who may not act in such a capacity. Thus, another important reason to obtain the services of a legal professional experienced in elder law.
Thank you for visiting Advise & Protect Senior Care Consultants as we’ve discussed Living Will attorney assistance in NY. Please check back as we continue exploring other elder law topics including but not limited to Revocable Living Trust, Will and Trusts, Estate Planning, etc. Meanwhile, should you have questions we encourage you to give us a call at 646-820-9202 and speak with one of our senior care consultants. They will be able to answer any questions you might have to begin the process.