Advance health directives are legal documents where you can appoint an agent (or agents) to act on your behalf and provide a legal outline and explanation of your desires in the event that you cannot make medical decisions for yourself due to illness or disability. A Power of Attorney provides legal authority for another person on your behalf in specified or all legal and/or financial matters.
Health Care Proxies
A Health Care Proxy allows you to appoint a person as your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you cannot speak for yourself for any reason. Your health care agent should be a person whom you trust, who knows your wishes about medical treatment, and who is willing to be your advocate and take responsibility to ensure your wishes are followed.
A living will sets forth your end of life wishes so that they may be known if you are unable to speak for yourself. Your last will and testament is an expression of your intention concerning the disposition of your property at your death. Besides providing for the orderly distribution of your assets after your death, a will allows for you to select the person who will handle your estate after your demise, and allows you to name a guardian for your minor children.
Trust and Wills
A person’s income and resources must be below a certain amount in order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits, among other eligibility requirements. We use Medicaid-exempt transfers, irrevocable trusts and combinations of loans and gifting and other planning techniques as tools to protect assets as a part of Medicaid planning. With proper planning, a person can protect his or her assets.
A guardian is a person that is appointed by the court to allow a person to make decisions for another individual that lacks the capacity to do so. An individual can be rendered incapacitated early in life, or due to an illness that relates to age, or other times it can be the result of a sudden tragedy. A guardianship may be required when an incapacitated individual has not previously appointed a person to handle matters on their behalf (Power of Attorney for financial matters and/or Health Care Proxy for health care matters) and now can no longer manage their affairs on their own.
Probate and Administration
Probate is the legal process started in order to have a will accepted by the court, and to have an executor appointed to handle the decedent’s estate in accordance with his or her Last Will and Testament. If a decedent dies without a Will, an administration proceeding may take place. If there is no Will stating the wishes of the decedent, New York’s intestacy laws would determine who would inherit the decedent’s assets and who may act as fiduciary of the estate.