As we age, our physical and mental faculties often begin to decline. This can make it difficult to manage our affairs and make important decisions. Incapacity planning is the process of making arrangements for when we are no longer able to make decisions for ourselves. This can include appointing a trusted person to make decisions on our behalf or creating legal documents that outline our wishes. In New York, incapacity planning is an important aspect of elder law. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process and ensure your wishes are respected.
- Create a Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This person, known as your agent or attorney-in-fact, can handle your financial affairs, such as paying bills, managing investments, and selling property. It is important to choose someone you trust and who has the necessary skills to manage your affairs. In New York, a durable power of attorney must be signed in the presence of a notary public or two witnesses. It should also include specific instructions about the powers you are granting to your agent and any limitations you wish to impose.
- Consider a Living Trust
A living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer assets into a trust while you are alive. You can act as the trustee of the trust and manage the assets as you normally would. If you become incapacitated, your designated successor trustee can step in and manage the assets on your behalf.
- Prepare a Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This person, known as your health care agent, can make decisions about your medical treatment, including life-sustaining measures, if you are unable to do so. In New York, a health care proxy must be signed in the presence of two witnesses or a notary public. It should also include specific instructions about your wishes regarding medical treatment
- Consult with an Elder Law Attorney
Incapacity planning can be complex, and the laws and regulations surrounding it can vary from state to state. Consulting with an elder law attorney can help ensure that your wishes are properly documented and that you have taken all necessary steps to protect yourself and your assets.
An elder law attorney can also help you navigate other important aspects of elder law, such as Medicaid planning, long-term care planning, and estate planning.
In conclusion, incapacity planning is an important aspect of elder law in New York. By creating legal documents such as a durable power of attorney, living trust, health care proxy, and living will, you can ensure that your wishes are respected if you become incapacitated. Consulting with an elder law attorney can also provide valuable guidance and support as you navigate this process.