Comprehensive Advance Directive Guidance in Hudson Valley

Secure Your Medical Wishes with Our Hudson Valley Lawyers

Advance directives are legally valid instructions to ensure your wishes are carried out if you become incapacitated. New York State recognizes two types of advance directives that will protect your medical rights. Our attorneys at Letterio & Haug, LLP can help you construct either type to ensure your document is legally sound and enforceable.

For a legal consultation, contact our Hudson Valley advance directive attorney at (845) 203-0997.

What is a Living Will?

The first and oldest type of advance directive is known as a living will. This document allows you to state your medical care wishes in the event you develop an irreversible medical condition that prevents you from stating these decisions. 

A living will becomes effective if you are:

  • terminally ill;
  • permanently unconscious, or
  • minimally conscious (i.e. you have brain damage so severe you will never recover the ability to make decisions).

What Does “Losing Capacity” Mean?

Losing capacity could involve an individual being medically incapacitated, such as entering a coma or suffering from another medical event that damages their neural functions. However, it could also mean the development of conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer's that impair the person's decision to make decisions that are in their own best interests.

An advance directive allows an individual to invoke Power of Attorney - POA - to appoint a person to care for their health and estate in the event they lose capacity.

New York does not have any specific laws recognizing living wills but relies upon clear evidence of your wishes. For this reason, it’s imperative that your living will be as specific and clear as possible. You must sign a living will in the presence of a witness in order to ensure it is legally binding.

An attending physician has the power to carry out the directive to their own interpretation. A friend or family member who may know the exact wishes has no legal standing to interpret the meaning of the directive or instruct the physician on the meaning of the document.

What Should I Put In My Advance Directive?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, people increasingly realize the importance of measures such as advance directives. However, talking about wills and trusts can be uncomfortable for many people - while a survey from the Conversation Project revealed that 92% of respondents said talking with loved ones about end-of-life care was important, only 32% of respondents had actually done so. Making an advance directive can help you ensure your loved ones have a plan in place if you lose capacity. 

There are a few things you should specify in your advance directive:

  • Your healthcare agent or proxy. This is the individual who will be in charge of overseeing and administering healthcare to you in the event you lose capacity.
  • Your preferences for end-of-life care. This can include what kind of care you would like to receive if you cannot speak, a Do Not Resuscitate order if you feel that's the best option for you, etc.
  • Your estate administrator or proxy. This is the individual who will look after your estate if you lose capacity.
  • Wishes for your estate during end-of-life care. This can include how much of your financial resources you wish to expend on end-of-life care, how you want to handle your house if you need to move out of it, etc.
  • Your general values concerning the end of your life and how you would like to pass on. This can help your proxies and loved ones ensure that you receive care in line with your values, even if you can't communicate.
  • Individuals you do not want to make decisions regarding your healthcare or estate. If you have any estranged relations who you fear may make poor decisions for you, specify them and revoke their power to make decisions for you.
  • How you wish to be disposed of when you die. Many people have very specific wishes for what they want to be done with their bodies at the end of their lives - if you have any, make sure they're specified in your advance directive.

Designating a Health Care Proxy in Hudson Valley

The second type of advanced directive is called a healthcare proxy. This allows you to name someone you trust as the person who makes health care decisions on your behalf. The person appointed as your agent must be willing to speak on your behalf and make health care choices that you would choose yourself. Under New York law, this directive will go into effect after two physicians have examined you and determined that you cannot make decisions on your own.

A healthcare proxy can either be temporary or permanent. A temporary proxy is generally created before a person undergoes outpatient surgery that requires anesthesia. The person in charge of making decisions will be responsible for any quick actions if an issue arises. A permanent proxy is best for the elderly or someone who has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease.

What is a Do Not Resuscitate Order?

A ‘do not resuscitate order’ (DNR may also be considered an advance directive. Usually, hospital staff will try and revive any patient whose heart has stopped beating. However, if you create a DNR document, the staff will respect your wishes. All doctors and hospitals accept a DNR, and it doesn’t have to be part of your advance directive. However, you should seek the counsel of an attorney to help you make the order as clear as possible.

Get Professional Advance Directive Assistance in Hudson Valley

At Letterio & Haug, LLP, we understand the situation surrounding your advance directive may be sensitive. We provide sympathetic and practical legal counsel and will help you create a specific and clear advance directive.

Contact our firm online or call us at (845) 203-0997 for a legal appointment with our Hudson Valley advance directive lawyers.


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