Frequently Asked Questions

October 25, 2004

What is Elder Law? Elder Law is an area of the law that deals primarily with planning for incapacity. Many documents used in Estate Planning overlap with Elder Law planning such as Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies and Living wills.

Do I need a power of attorney and a health care proxy? A durable power of attorney is a document that allows you to appoint one or more persons to make your business and financial decisions. Powers of Attorney drafted by experience Elder Law attorneys generally provide enhanced gift giving provisions to allow your agent to use the Power of Attorney for Medicaid planning to protect your assets if you are unable to do so. A Health Care proxy is a document that allows you to appoint someone to make your health care decisions if you are unable to convey your wishes. The form should cover artificial nutrition and hydration. It is important that you discuss your healthcare wishes. If you have a properly drafted durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy in place, there is generally no need for an expensive guardianship proceeding if you become incapacitated.

What is a Living Will? While a Health Care Proxy is the appropriate document used to make health care decisions in New York, for persons who travel or snowbird, the Living Will is an alternative document used in other states. Essentially, the Living Will provides more detailed information about what procedures you want or do not want if you have a terminal condition where you are expected to pass away shortly. The language in the Living Will can also be used as clear and convincing evidence of your wishes in a new York court in the event your Health Care Proxy agent’s decisions are challenged.