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New York Living Will

None of us can foresee an accident or illness that will impact us in such a way that we are suddenly unable to communicate with family, friends, or health care professionals. Unfortunately, these shocking events do occur, leaving you mentally and physically incapacitated and leaving your family and friends devastated. When this happens, many difficult questions arise concerning your medical care that you will not be able to answer. While you cannot predict when or if you will end up in an incapacitated condition, with the help of an experienced New York living will lawyer, as part of your overall estate plan you can create a living will and other advance health care directives (AHCD) that provides instructions for your family and doctors just in case circumstances occur that render you incapable of making decisions related to your medical care.

Living will and AHCD

An advanced health care directive (AHCD) is a general term to describe estate documents that are used to let your family, friends and medical professionals know your preferences in the event that you become incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself. A living will is one type of advance health care directive.

In a living will you state your preferences for the medical treatment you approve in the event you are in a condition such that you are unable to make decisions and speak for yourself. Typically a living will would come into play if your condition deteriorates to the extent that it is not likely that you will recover. There are a variety of instructions that you can include in your living will. If you have concerns about specific treatments, discuss them with an experienced New York living will lawyer. Examples of instructions that are often addressed in living wills include:

  • Whether or not you want cardio resuscitation. Cardio resuscitation restarts the heart when it has stopped beating. If you indicate in your living will that you want cardio resuscitation, then medical professionals would use CPR or they would use a device that delivers an electric shock to stimulate the heart.
  • Whether or not you want mechanical respiration. If you want mechanical respiration, then medical professionals would put you on a mechanical respirator or ventilator to takes over your breathing if you are unable to do so.
  • Whether or not you want artificial nutrition and hydration. Artificial nutrition and hydration would involve nutrients and fluids being delivered to your body intravenously or through a stomach tube. Tube feeding supplies the body with nutrients and fluids intravenously or via a tube in the stomach.
  • Whether or not you want antibiotics and other drugs. Antibiotics or antiviral medications can be used to treat many infections. In your living will you can state whether you want aggressive treatment using drugs or other drugs if you are nearing the end of your life.
  • Whether or not you want dialysis. In your living will you can state whether or not you want dialysis. Dialysis is a treatment that is necessary when kidneys no longer function. It removes waste from blood and manages fluid levels.
  • Palliative care. In your living will you can indicate what type of palliative or comfort care you would want if you are at the end of your life. Palliative care includes being allowed to die at home, receiving pain medications, being fed ice chips to soothe dryness, and avoiding invasive tests or treatments.

You can be very specific and detailed in your living will. For example, you can specify that based on a certain prognosis you may or may not want certain treatments, while if the diagnosis or prognosis is different, you would want a different type of treatment.

Living will vs. health care proxy

As an experienced New York living will lawyer will explain, although both a health care proxy and a living will are advance health care directives, they are not the same thing. A living will is a document that contains your instructions about treatment. It is a good idea for copies to be given to family members, close friends, and your health care providers. On the other hand, a health care proxy is a document that allows you to appoint another person to serve as your health care agent to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so. Other types of advance health care directives include DNR (do not resuscitate orders) and Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) forms.

Consequences of not having a living will

Whether you write a last will and testament, set up a trust, or execute a living will, the purpose of any type of estate planning is to prepare in advance for a situation so that when or if the situation happens, you control how it is managed.

If you have a living will in place that was well-drafted by an experienced living will attorney in New York, then there will be no confusion as to how doctors should proceed if you are incapacitated. If you do not have a living will, it may be unclear as to what you would have wanted. Furthermore, you would place your family members in the difficult position to make decisions that could have a profound impact on your life or quality of life. Another possible outcome is that the court will have to appoint a guardian to make the decisions on your behalf. This is outcome would be costly and time-consuming, and it still may not result in treatments being implemented that you would choose.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Whether you experience a period in which you are mentally incapacitated or not, your personal and financial goals will be met only if your estate plan has all of the necessary components including an advance health care document that includes a living will. As with all of your estate documents, once you have executed a living will, it is a good idea to regularly review it to make sure it still reflects your wishes. The seasoned living will attorneys serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have over 2 decades of experience working closely with clients on a variety of estate matters, including creating living wills, health care proxies, durable powers of attorneys, and other estate documents. We are here to help. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Queens, Westchester County, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, and Staten Island.

Client Reviews
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Mr. Bilkis handled both my father and mother's estate issues through very difficult times he was compassionate kind and understanding. In fact the whole firm showed great empathy. Despite the emotional hard time we were having that quickly and efficiently handle all the matters that were necessary to get us the result we desired. Can't recommend them enough. B.B.
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