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Understanding Advance Directives: What You Need to Know

An individual’s estate plan should include legal documents that authorize a person of your choosing to make the necessary financial and health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make your own decisions.

Every adult individual should have a comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney. The Durable Power of Attorney can be executed in favor of one or more individuals of your choosing, including family members (for example: spouse, children).

This will enable the person that you have designated to make financial decisions on your behalf if and when it is necessary. A comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney may also become a critical part of your plan to protect and preserve your assets. This document should contain expanded powers, such as the authority to make gifts and to sign tax returns, as well as provide for successor agent(s). In addition, this planning tool is essential in avoiding a Guardianship proceeding which can be time-consuming, costly and restrictive.

In addition, every adult individual should have health care decision making documents, including a Health Care Proxy, Living Will and Medical Authorization. A Health Care Proxy which will allow a family member or another individual of your choosing (such as your spouse or child) to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Only one agent can be appointed to act at a time. It can also state your wishes regarding organ donation.

A Living Will specifies your desires as to life-sustaining treatment in the event there is no reasonable prospect of recovery. This document provides guidance to your agent named in your Health Care Proxy as to your desires regarding extraordinary life-sustaining treatment.

Lastly, a Medical Authorization allows for the disclosure or release of your health information to the individuals that you have selected to make health care decisions for you. This allows your health care agent(s) to access your health care information to make the most informed decisions about your care.

It is critical that every adult who has the ability to sign these documents do so. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Russo Law Group, P.C.
100 Quentin Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 102
Garden City, NY 11530

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