As I have noted in previous “Spring Cleaning” posts on Health Care Proxies and Living Wills, I think spring is the perfect time to look at your estate planning documents on an annual/bi-annual basis to make sure everything is up-to-date. A few weeks ago, I attended an Article 81 Guardian course for attorneys. It reminded me how important it is for people to have Health Care Proxies and Durable Power of Attorneys for Property in place. It is something that so many of us overlook… until we need it. In fact, according to this article only 29% of Americans have a Living Will and/or Health Proxy. People of all ages and walks of life need to be prepared for the unexpected. A few years ago a close family member of mine who was in his twenties got in a car accident — and when the nurse in intensive care asked his mother for the Health Care Proxy and she responded with “It’s is at home – unsigned.” Estate planning documents are an easy thing to postpone because nobody expects that they will get in a car accident.
So quit putting it off. In New York, Health Care Proxies are governed by Article 29-c of the Public Health Law. I suggest reviewing the downloadable brochure from the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) on Health Care Proxies and Living Wills and this extensive guide from the Office of the Attorney General. Even though there are forms available online, I highly suggest speaking to an attorney about your need for a Health Care Proxy to help ensure the document properly addresses your needs.