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Living Will in New York

A living will, also known as a “health care directive,” states your preferences for treatment in the event you become medically incapacitated. A living will allows a person to make health care decisions for themselves instead of relying on family members to make tough choices. A person must be a competent adult at the time the living will is created.

If you are trying to decide whether a living will is right for you, an experienced New York estate planning attorney can provide more information about living wills. In addition, they can make sure that your full intent regarding health care decisions is accurately conveyed.

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What Is a Health Care Proxy?

The New York Health Care Proxy Law allows you to appoint an agent you trust -- for example, a family member or close friend -- to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself. The document legally authorizing that person is called a health care proxy.

A health care proxy is a completely voluntary way to eliminate confusion among loved ones and health care providers about your health care wishes. Hospitals, doctors, and other medical providers must follow the agent's decisions as if they were your own.

Here are a few answers to questions commonly asked about health care proxies:

How to Talk Finances With Your Kids

It seems as though everyone is talking about elder care these days. A recent segment on NBC's "Today" discussed how to talk finances with your kids.

Many children assume that their parents have financially planned for their old age. The result is that they don't necessarily think there is much need to look after their parents' financial well being as they get older.

Going Into a Nursing Home? Plan Your Estate First

Last week, there was some shocking news out of an independent living facility in California.

The story really drives home the importance of having a proper health care directive. It also raises some important concerns involving the rights of patients in elder care and nursing home facilities. As a result, it's imperative upon anyone entering a nursing home to have their proper estate planning documents laid out and drafted.

In the California case, a woman died at an independent living facility after a woman (who identified herself as a nurse) declined to perform CPR when a 911 dispatcher asked her to, the Los Angeles Times reports.

5 Must-Have Documents in an Estate Plan

What are the necessary documents in an estate plan? Estate plans vary, and depending on the size of your estate, you could have either a very simple estate plan or a very complex one.

But if we go back to basics, most estate plans have a few general things in common, whether they are for small estates or multimillion-dollar ones.

Here is a list of the five must-have documents for a basic estate plan:

3 Ways to Start Your Estate Planning

So, you're thinking about doing your estate plan, but where should you begin?

An estate plan can be simple to draw up, if your estate is simple and includes few assets. But if you have a more complex estate, things can get tricky.

For the purpose of this discussion, we'll talk about more simple estates. Here are three ways to start your estate planning:

Can Adoption Records Be Unsealed For Health Care Directive?

Can you ask a court to unseal decades-old adoption documents to determine who your birth parents are, if the information affected your estate planning?

It’s unlikely that the Surrogate’s Court would unseal those records for that purpose, especially since intestate inheritance rights of the birth parents are cut off (and vice versa) once the adoption decree goes through.

Adoptions are largely private matters and documents from adoption can be sealed by the court once the adoption decree is final.

Superstorm Sandy Reminds of the Importance of Pet Planning

One interesting development coming from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is the need to factor pets into estate plans. This isn’t one of those stories where we talk about eccentric billionaires giving their full estate to their cat.

This is more of a discussion on disaster planning for pets.

Mistakes Celebrities Make: The Sad Case of Gary Coleman

Lawyers aren't necessarily good at everything. For example, a criminal lawyer might be able to draft a will, but is it wise?

An article on a blog called Millionaire Corner talks about mistakes celebrities make when drafting wills. One of these mistakes is not using an experienced estate planning attorney.

Do You Need a Health Care Directive for End-of-Life Decisions?

There seems to be controversy over somebody's end-of-life issues once every few years. The most famous of these was the Terry Schiavo case, which pit the brain-damaged woman's parents against her husband in a fight over whether to keep her on life support. Similar cases have occurred across the globe in places like Italy and the UK.

The reason the Schiavo battle occurred was because she had been young and did not have a health care power of attorney or a health care directive in place. If she'd had one of these documents in place, it would have clearly outlined the process to determine whether and when to end life-sustaining procedures.

So which is the right option for you?

How to Draft and Execute a NY Power of Attorney

The financial power of attorney is one of the most important documents in an estate plan.

A financial power of attorney gives another person the power to act on your behalf, as it relates to your finances. You can have an immediate power of attorney or a springing power of attorney.

Here are some quick terms to know: