Advance Directives

What are they and why should you have them?

Advance directives are documents that allow you to direct others to operate on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so because of illness or other unavailability.

In New York, the leading document is the health care proxy, allowing you to make decisions about your medical care in advance of being incapacitated.  It is a legal document in which you appoint an agent who will make medical decisions if you are not able to do so. 

Another document that you should consider is the durable power of attorney which allows you to appoint an agent to handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. The agent you appoint can be the same as the person you appoint in the health care proxy.

An additional document to consider is the living will which allows you to make decisions in advance as to whether or not you want to receive life-sustaining treatment if you are incapacitated. 

You should also be aware that children 18 and older should have advance directives.  Why?  Because when your child reaches the age 18, your ability to weigh in on and be part of their medical decisions ends.  However, if your children have durable powers of attorney and health care proxies allowing you to act as their agent in case of incapacity, you will be able to help them if and when the time comes.



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