A strong and up-to-date estate plan is an important tool that every New York adult should strive to create. Although many individuals may believe that their estates are too small to require such action, an estate plan is necessary to ensure that their assets, no matter their quantity or size, are distributed according to their desires upon their deaths. Without an estate plan a person’s wealth and property may be distributed according to state laws.

Wills, trusts, and other testamentary devices are often recognized as the prominent documents to include in estate plans. However, other documents like durable powers of attorney should also be prepared by individuals who wish to build comprehensive strategies for their long-term and end-of-life plans.

A durable power of attorney, also called a health care proxy, is a device that becomes important before a person passes away. It is a controlling legal tool that grants certain powers to named individuals when the creators of the devices are incapacitated. For example, if a White Plains resident suffered serious injuries in an accident and was placed in a medically induced coma, their durable power of attorney would name another person to make medical decisions for them.

Durable powers of attorney concern medical treatment and care. A person who is granted authority through a durable power of attorney may elect to undergo diagnostic or therapeutic treatments for the incapacitated party or may choose not to subject them to ongoing medical intervention. Generally, a person granted authority through a durable power of attorney must be a competent adult who has signed the device to indicate their willingness to serve in such a capacity.

This post does not provide instruction on how to prepare or execute a durable power of attorney. To include this and other important long-term care and end-of-life documents in one’s personal estate plan, consultation with a trusted attorney is recommended. No part of this post should be read as legal advice.