“Advance directives” is the broad term for a series of legal arrangements that can help protect you and your loved ones from preventable strife. Without them, your loved ones may be forced to handle extremely troublesome legal difficulties if you become incapacitated, alive but unable to handle your personal affairs. But what exactly are advance directives, and how do they help your loved ones?
Explaining Advance Directives
Advance directives are special legal arrangements that either grant others the authority to act on your behalf in certain ways, or which direct others to act in the way you would like. Typically, advance directives refers to three specific types of legal documents:
- Power of attorney: A document that grants others the power to handle legal and financial matters on your behalf. This gives them access to your finances, allows them to pay your bills, lets them manage your property, and, if necessary, allows them to go to court on your behalf.
- Health care proxy: A document similar to the power of attorney, except it grants them the power to make medical decisions on your behalf. These decisions include authorizing medical tests, providing informed consent for procedures and treatments, and, if necessary, authorizing palliative care.
- Living will: A document that directs others about what kinds of medical procedures you would consent to, when you cannot do so yourself. Common clauses in living wills include DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders, which prevent medical revival after their heart or breathing stops, as well as DNI (Do Not Intubate) orders, which deny permission to intubate in the event it would become necessary.
Protecting Your Own Interests
Advance directives protect you by ensuring your care is placed in the hands of someone you trust. Without advance directives like a power of attorney or health care proxy, your loved ones may need to seek a guardianship from a court to handle your affairs. This can add massive complication and expense to something that can be avoided with proper preparation. Advance directives also help you avoid the need to seek a guardianship in the event that you become incapcitated, saving massive amounts of stress and expense.
Helping Your Loved Ones
In addition, advance directives make things much easier for your loved ones. So long as they know where your estate plan documents are located, all they need to do is pull them out and show them, and they will be able to handle everything for you while you cannot do so yourself. This takes a massive burden off their shoulders, allowing them to focus on caring for you instead of battling the legal system to administer your care. However, before you can get advance directives in place, you should speak to a lawyer with knowledge of elder law, who can help you make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones.
The elder law attorneys at David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC will thoroughly analyze your estate and work with you to determine the best means of transferring your assets, minimizing taxes, and ensuring your needs are met. For comprehensive estate planning services in New York, call David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC at (631) 750-0900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our Setauket office.