Advance Directives and Wills
Advance directives are documents that let other people, such as family, friends, and health care providers, know how a person wants to be treated in the event of incapacitation and/or the inability to speak or decide for oneself. Common advance directives are living wills, health care proxies, and do not resuscitate (DNR) orders. A living will explains what kind of life-sustaining measures a person wants or does not want to be taken, including feeding tube and/or ventilator. A health care proxy, also known in some states as a power of attorney for health care, provides an identified individual with the authority to make medical decisions on one’s behalf. A do not resuscitate order indicates that the person does not want any life saving action to be taken in the event that he stops breathing. Other important documents are the will and power of attorney. A will explains what a person wants to happen with his estate (money, belongings, etc.) after his death, and a general or financial power of attorney authorizes another, identified person to make decisions on one’s behalf. These decisions usually involve finances, although the document may be tailored to be as specific or general as necessary. In order for a power of attorney to remain valid when the principal becomes incapacitated, the person should have what is known as a durable power of attorney, which survives incapacitation on the part of the principal. Included in this category are forms and guidance on planning for sickness and incapacitation, end-of-life care, and death.
Consumer's Toolkit for Health Care Advance Planning, American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging
This tool kit was created for those who are thinking of making a health care advance directive, such as a living will or durable power of attorney for health care, or who have already signed one. It does not create a formal advance directive for the user, but instead helps the user discover, clarify, and communicate what is important to the user in the face of serious illness. A written advance directive is more effective if is supported by: (1) informed, thoughtful reflection about the individual’s wishes and values, and (2) personal communication between the individual and his or her likely decision-makers before a crisis occurs. The tool kit contains a variety of self-help worksheets, suggestions, and resources to accomplish these goals.
Click here to access the toolkit.
Planning Your Health Care in Advance: How to Make Your End-of-Life Wishes Known and Honored, New York State Office of the Attorney General
This thorough consumer guide to New York law provides information and sample forms to help users exercise their right to make treatment decisions and ensure that their wishes for end-of-life-care are understood and respected by care givers, family, and friends. The guide includes an explanation of different types of advance directives (e.g., health care proxy, living will); guidance on how to prepare, make known, or cancel these directives; and discussions of issues such as pain management, hospice care, and organ donation. The guide also incorporates a list of organizations that can provide additional forms and information and citations to relevant case law and statutes.
Click here to download.