In addition to our Family Law practice, our team at Santarpia Law is well versed in all aspects of of Estate Planning, including the transfer of property between family members and the drafting and filing of various estate planning documentation.
A Will is a document that is witnessed by two disinterested parties and directs the distribution of your assets upon your death. With a validly executed Will, your assets will be distributed as you see fit, subject to New York statutory provisions.
In New York, if a person does not have a validly executed Will when they pass away, then they die intestate. If your estate is distributed through intestacy, your property will be distributed according to NY EPTL 4-1.1. NY law does not take into account any personal guarantees or preferences, and is distributed according to law.
To avoid this intestacy, it is important to file a validly executed Will, no matter your age, health, or marital status, as intestacy may distribute significant portions of property to people whom you do not know or whom you do not wish to receive your property.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that grants authority to another person, who is known as either your agent or attorney-in-fact, to make important decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so yourself. Some common actions your agent would make on your behalf include managing financial matters, health care decisions, or other important matters that may come up during your life. A Power of Attorney is a vital tool for ensuring that your wishes are respected and your affairs are properly managed in situations where you are incapacitated or unavailable.
In New York, a Power of Attorney is durable unless otherwise specified in your documents. This means in New York, your Power of Attorney will continue despite incapacity and until your death unless you specify otherwise.
At Santarpia Law, our team possesses extensive knowledge and experience to ensure that your Power of Attorney is carefully crafted to ensure compliance with statutory standards as well as to meet your specific needs. We understand that every individual’s circumstances are unique, and we take the time to listen to your concerns and goals. Our team will work closely with you to understand your wishes, assess your situation, and tailor your Power of Attorney to reflect your specific preferences and requirements.
A Health Care Proxy is a document where the testator names someone they trust as their agent, or proxy, to express the testator’s wishes and make health care decisions if the testator is unable to speak for themselves. This instrument gives you the flexibility to appoint who you want to make health care decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated.
The agent you appoint will have as many or as few powers as you wish, and it is important to consult an attorney when drafting one to ensure that all potential decisions are accounted for. While your agent will always have broad decision-making authority, a strongly written Health Care Proxy will ensure that your best wishes are carried out as well as preventing abuse of power in the event you are unable to communicate your decisions regarding your own health.
In contrast to a Health Care Proxy, a Living Will – or Advanced Directive – is a document that provides more specific instructions regarding life-sustaining treatment for patients with terminal illnesses. A Living Will does not designate a specific person to carry out your wishes, but rather designates your desired treatment in the event of particular circumstances. Your Living Will sets forth guidelines that health care professionals would be bound to follow in the event of your incapacity.
While both are helpful to you in event of an emergency, a Health Care Proxy is much more flexible in its execution, and will allow for a person you trust to make health-related decisions for you.
Do you have questions relating to Health Care Proxies or Living Wills? Our team is dedicated to finding the right plan for you in the event of incapacity. Schedule a consultation with our office today!
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