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Three Reasons Why You Should Set Up Advanced Health Care Directives With An Attorney

Setting up advanced health care directives to deal with end-of-life treatment can be one of the more difficult steps to take in your estate planning portfolio. Nonetheless, whether it concerns palliative care or if you will be under anesthesia and will need these directives in place, it is important you have an attorney set up these directives for a variety of reasons.

For one, in my standard living will/health care proxy document, it states advanced directives if one faces a terminal condition for which there is no reasonable expectation for recovery. This office is very sensitive to each individual’s beliefs, wishes, and desires when dealing with such a situation and specific language is tailored accordingly to meet that client’s wishes. It sets forth whether to continue or cease artificial nutrition and hydration, and how the situation is to be handled if medical professionals see no reasonable expectation of recovery. We also have a specific provision dealing with consent (or lack thereof) to a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate).

Second, an attorney can properly appoint an individual (or individuals) known as Health Care Agents to act on behalf of the patient if they are unable to render medical decisions on their own behalf. The language clearly states who is to be appointed, their contact information, and the extent of their powers as health care agent for the patient. These powers can be far reaching or limited depending on the wishes of the client, hence it is of utmost importance to have an experienced estate planning attorney draft the advanced directives within the context of a Living Will and Health Care Proxy.

Third, it is important to have an attorney properly draft the advanced directives because it will state when the certificate of authority is to be bestowed upon the health care agent. Typically, the certification will occur when at least one (1) licensed physician makes a medical determination regarding the incapacity of the patient, and will set forth a period of time intervals (i.e. one weeks, two weeks) wherein the incapacity is reviewed and further determinations will be made by the physician in conjunction with the Health Care Agent.

If you need an experienced New York estate planning attorney, please contact us at the Law Offices of Michael W. Alpert at (516) 280-7288 or e-mail: