An accident or a long term illness may leave a person mentally and/or physically incapacitated and unable to make financial and legal decisions. It is important for everyone, including elderly persons, to have in place as part of their estate planning, a will and/or trust as well as a living will, power of attorney and health care proxy in case of a disability. Having the proper legal documents ready gives a person the power to choose who they want to manage their legal and financial matters and make health decisions when they are unable to do so on their own behalf. It also gives a person’s family the peace of mind knowing that their loved one’s wishes are being followed.
It is important to appoint someone you can trust to handle these matters on your behalf. Most people will appoint a spouse or one of their children, a parent or sibling to act on their behalf. However, a friend or organization could also be given the powers as well. Since the average person is not familiar with all the necessary legal documents that they may need, they usually seek the advice of a NY estate lawyer to help prepare them.
Here is a list of the basic documents that a person should include as part of their estate planning with regard to a disability:
Power of Attorney
Under New York law, a power of attorney is a legal document which a person signs authorizing someone else, either an individual or an organization, to make legal decisions on their behalf. The powers given to the designated agent can be specific or general. The power of attorney is in effect until the person dies, unless there is an earlier expiration date specified in the power of attorney. The following are the most common types of powers of attorney used regarding a disability:
Estate planning is a little different for disability
Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney gives general powers to the agent and can be used from the time it is made and also when a person becomes incapacitated.
Springing Power of Attorney. A Springing Power of Attorney means the power of attorney becomes effective only at the time a person becomes incapacitated. The term incapacitated or disabled can be defined so the person can decide when their agent can act on their behalf.
If you do not have a power of attorney in place, your family might need to go to Court, incurring legal fees and other costs. The agent appointed by the Court may not be the one you want to act on your behalf. So if your only living relative is your crazy sister Susie, you might want to avoid a Court appointment by making a power of attorney designating your best friend Sandi as your agent.
A living will gives your agent authority to make decisions regarding medical instructions to your doctor or health care provider about life support and whether or not to resuscitate you.
Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy differs from a living will because you still make your own heath care decisions if you chose to. The purpose of the document is for your agent to be able to give medical consent to medical care and procedures on your behalf when you are unable to make the consent or decisions on your own.
New York Probate and Estate Attorney
It is highly recommended that you include a power of attorney, living will and health care proxy as well as a will and/or trust as part of your estate planning so that you are in control of who will make decisions on your behalf should you become disabled or incapacitated and how you want your assets distributed after you pass away. St. Pre Law Firm P.C. can help you with your estate planning needs and prepare all the necessary documents for you.