No one wants to think about falling ill or becoming incapacitated. Regrettably, this could mean that some families in New York are left to face difficult medical or financial decisions on their own because an incapacitated loved one previously failed to make his or her wishes known. Situations such as this can be circumvented by formal documentation known as an advance directive.
An advance directive makes a person’s wishes and intentions clear in the event he or she becomes incapacitated due to an illness or accident. Advance directives fall into one of two primary categories: a power of attorney, or a living will. Some states combine the living will and power of attorney into a single advance directive form, but this does not have to be the case.
A power of attorney names a trusted person to act on an individual’s behalf, and can be more flexible than a living will. A living will details a person’s preferences about medical treatments such as resuscitation and artificial respiration, but it can be difficult to anticipate every possible medical decision that may arise and prepare specific instructions for each circumstance. Instead, a power of attorney lets the named agent make the choice on the individual’s behalf, so if the agent has an idea of the person’s wishes, he (or she) is able to make whatever decision he feels would best comply.
It is even possible to pick two separate trusted individuals as agents for a power of attorney: one person to make medical decisions and another to speak on financial matters. Whatever type of advance directive — a medical power of attorney, a living will, or both — is chosen, an attorney with experience in elder law planning in New York can offer counsel to help make sure all important areas are addressed and that nothing is overlooked. Understandably, it is important to ensure that all the information contained in an advanced directive is correct, yet another area where an attorney’s insight can prove invaluable. The completed document can then be made available as necessary, including the attorney, family members and medical staff.
Source: webmd.com, “Advance Directives and Medical Power of Attorney“, Accessed on Jan. 20, 2017