Estate planning can help New York residents determine how they want their assets distributed after death, and it can also help them plan for care that may be needed while still alive. Various documents can help with care planning, but it can be confusing to know which documents may be needed. In particular, parties may wonder about the difference between a living will and a health care proxy.

First a living will is not the same as a traditional will. The living will lets individuals detail what type of care they want to receive in potentially terminal situations. Parties can include what treatment they want and what they may not want. One example that many people include in their living wills is whether they should remain on life support.

A health care proxy can also be referred to as a heath care power of attorney. The document gives a person the ability to make medical-related decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person. Creating this document well before it is needed can help ensure that these important decisions are not left up to chance and that family members are not placed in a difficult position of deciding who should make these choices.

Both a living will and a health care proxy can be important documents to include in a comprehensive estate plan. Consulting with knowledgeable New York attorneys could help interested parties better understand these and other planning options. It may also benefit individuals to explore other tools that could help when considering plans for addressing future care and end-of-life wishes.