Long Island AHCD Lawyer

One part of estate planning is making advanced plans for the possibility that one day you may end up so ill that you are unable to communicate with your health care providers of family members. For example, you may end up in a horrible car accident that leaves you on life support. Or due to health issues related to aging, you may become mentally incapacitated. While it is unpleasant to think that this may happen to us one day, it is a smart idea to make plans just in case it does happen. An Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD) is an effective way to make certain that you receive the care and treatment you would have requested if you were able. In the absence of an AHCD, your family will be left to make difficult treatment decisions for you, possible causing family arguments. Eventually, the court may have to get involved and appoint someone to make the decisions for you. As an important part to your overall estate plan it is vital for all adults to consider an AHCD, not just older adults or people who are facing a health crisis. A Long Island AHCD Lawyer will explain to you how an AHCD will help ensure that your wishes are followed in the event you become incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself, and will work closely with you to draft an AHCD that clearly expresses your wishes.

What is an AHCD?

An AHCD is a set of documents that gives instructions for doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, and family members as to what type of medical care you want to receive should you in some way become mentally incapacitated so that you are unable to make decisions on your own. These two documents are a living will and a health care proxy.

What is a living will?

A living will a written document in which you state your preferences regarding the treatment you want to receive if you are incapacitated from a terminal illness. Examples of issues that can be addressed in a living will include:

  • Transfusions of blood and blood products
  • CPR
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Dialysis
  • Administration of drugs
  • Mechanical respiration
  • Artificial nutrition and hydration
  • Surgery

In order for a living will to be valid it must be dated and you and 2 witnesses must sign it.

What is a health care proxy?

A health care proxy is a specific type of power of attorney. With a power of attorney you give another person, called your agent, the legal authority to make decisions for you. In the case of a health care proxy, your health care agent would have the authority to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself. In addition to appointing someone to be your health care agent, with your health care proxy you can also leave instructions regarding your treatment as well as other health care related issues. For examples you can leave instructions as to:

  • Whether or not you want to be resuscitated if your breathing or heart stops
  • Whether or not you want other life prolonging treatments such as artificial hydration and nutrition
  • Which long-term care facility you would prefer
  • The type of health care and long term care insurance you have
  • Whether or not you would like your organs and tissues donated

If other health care issues arise that are not addressed in your health care proxy or living will, then your health care agent would have the authority to make those decisions.

What if I do not have an AHCD?

If you do not have an AHCD then your doctors and other health care professional will not know your wishes. Sure, your family members may know. Your doctors may look to your spouse or parents, or children. However, in the absence of clear, written instructions by you, if there is disagreement among family members or between family and your doctors, the court may have to step in an appoint a conservator to make decisions about your health care. The result could be that not only are your wishes not followed, as they may be unknown, but the assets in your estate may be in jeopardy as they may be used to pay for extended medical care, or fees related to a conservatorship.

What else should I do to plan for my future?

In addition to an AHCD, a comprehensive estate plan should at a minimum also have a will. Depending on your personal and financial goals, there are other documents and strategies to consider for your overall estate plan.

  • Will. A will, also known as a last will and testament, is an estate planning document in which you as the testator specify who is to receive your property once you pass away and also names an executor who will be responsible for managing your estate. With a will you can also name a guardian for your minor children. In New York, in order to be valid you must be at least 18 years old and you must be of "sound mind and memory." You also must sign the will at the end and at least 2 people who are not also beneficiaries must sign the will. There are several different types of wills including a joint will, reciprocal wills, holographic wills and nuncupative wills. The specific type of will that should make depends on factors such as your goals and your circumstances at the time of execution.
  • Trust. A trust is an arrangement under which your designate a trustee to manage property that you transfer to the trust for the benefit of beneficiaries whom you designated. There are many kinds of trusts, some created during your lifetime, know as living trusts. Others are created by your will, known as testamentary trusts. There are several different types of trusts such as special needs trusts, education trusts, minor trusts, and spendthrift trusts. Some types of trusts allow your estate to avoid probate and will minimize estate tax liability.
  • Durable power of attorney for finances. A durable power of attorney for finances is similar to a health care proxy. However, instead of appointing someone to serve as your health care agent, you would appoint someone to serve as your agent with respect to financial issues. This is an important tool to have as it may be vital if you ever become incapacitated and unable to take care of your financial business such as paying your mortgage, utilities, and health insurance.
  • Asset Protection. Another aspect of estate planning is asset protection. The purpose of asset protection is to protect your assets from creditors in a manner that will not leave you susceptible to fraudulent transfer liability. While the law does not allow you to create an asset protection plan to dodge current creditors, it is acceptable and wise to create an asset protection plan to protect your assets from future creditors.
What is the next step I should take to create an AHCD?

A living will and a health care proxy are important documents that can great affect your future. It is important that they are executed properly. It is also important that you select a health care agent who you trust and who understands your goals and beliefs. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience working closely with clients to draft living wills, health care proxies, durable powers of attorney, wills and other estate planning documents. We will help you develop an overall estate plan that reflects your individual goals. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your estate plan. We serve individuals throughout the following locations:

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