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Plan ahead with an advance directive

At some point in your life, you may have found yourself in a predicament that resulted in your having to make difficult health-related decisions for someone else, or perhaps you witnessed the toll such a situation took on someone else. As a result, you may have decided to avoid placing your loved ones in such a difficult situation in the event that you cannot make health-related decisions for yourself.

Luckily, through estate planning, you can create an advance health care directive, or living will, that details how you would like your care handled in the event of your incapacitation. Before the directive can go into effect, your circumstances must meet certain stipulations.

Conditions of use

Within your living will or in a separate document, you can utilize a power of attorney to name an agent you want in charge of your health care decisions. However, before this individual can step in and actively make those decisions according to your wishes detailed in your directive, your doctor must determine that your state of health puts you in a position in which you cannot decide for yourself.

Additionally, if you become seriously injured or ill in a sudden event that results in EMTs attending to your care, your health care directive will not apply. Emergency technicians have a duty to attempt to stabilize your condition while on route to a medical facility. The details of your directive can only go into effect once you undergo a physician's evaluation, and he or she determines that your condition constitutes the use of your instructions.

If your condition improves and you once again have the ability to make decisions for yourself, the agent named in your power of attorney no longer has control over your care. You may also wish to understand that though your directive may take precedence in your state of residence, your instructions may not hold up in another state. Therefore, you may want to ensure that you update your directives if you move or have certain life changes.

Creating your directive

You may have some idea as to what you would like to include in your advance health directive, but the possibility exists that you may not consider all possibilities you need to cover. Therefore, you may want to discuss the creation of your document with a knowledgeable New York elder law attorney. This legal advocate can assist you in assessing your needs and desires and determining the best method for ensuring that your instructions remain valid.

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