Health Care Proxies and Powers of Attorney
We give you the documents that help you manage your assets and your health care decisions if you become mentally or physically disabled. Without these documents you will have to go through an expensive proceeding and have a guardian appointed for you by a court if you become disabled. With our documents in place you choose who is in charge if you cannot make your own decisions.
Health Care Proxy
Your Health Care Proxy appoints someone else to make your health care decisions for you if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to speak for yourself.
However, just appointing someone is not enough. You also need to indicate what your wishes are if you are terminally ill with no chance of any meaningful recovery. Do you want to be kept on life support indefinitely by the hospital (running up enormous medical bills) even though you can never recover?
If not, you need to say that you would not want life support in this situation, and if you are already on life support (because you came in by ambulance) you need to state a time period within which you would want to be removed. You should also indicate if you want to be buried or cremated, and if you want to donate your organs or not.
This part of your Health Care Proxy is called your “living will” and it gives directions to your proxy as to what your wishes are for your end of life treatment.
We know that there are Health Care Proxies that are available for free to download on the internet. However, these documents often do not contain the HIPAA disclosures required under federal law – including the one on the New York State Health Department website. This makes them unusable in most hospitals and medical offices.
Power of Attorney
If you are disabled, either temporarily or permanently, someone has to be able to manage your finances for you. A Power of Attorney lets someone that you name have access to your finances, so that if you are laid up they can pay your bills for you, file and pay your taxes, negotiate with your insurance provider, deposit checks, etc. Even a spouse cannot legally do this for you unless they have your Power of Attorney.
Statutory Gifts Rider
The Statutory Gifts Rider is an enhancement to your Power of Attorney that allows the one who has your Power of Attorney to set up as a trust to protect your assets if you have failed to do so, and move your assets into the trust to protect them and enable you to qualify financially for the government-paid aides to care for you at home. It is also required by Medicaid to enable someone else to do the Medicaid application and qualification process on your behalf. Everyone, of any age, should have a current Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy. Everyone over age 60 or those who are in poor health should also have the Statutory Gifts Rider.
With these documents in place, you can avoid having a stranger appointed as your guardian in an expensive court proceeding.