A Living Will is a document giving written instructions about your wishes regarding health care.
There is no law in New York State which sets up a format or rules regarding a Living Will, but the courts have recognized such documents as evidence of your wishes regarding health care.
This information can be helpful to your agent, if you have one, and can also be especially useful if your agent and alternate agent is unavailable or has died before you. You can state your wishes directly in a health care proxy and so may not need a separate living will, however, you may prefer to use a living will rather than a health care proxy if there is no one you trust to act as your agent.
If I have a Power of Attorney or Will do I still need a Healthcare Proxy and Living Will?
Yes, you will also need a Health Care Proxy or Living Will if you want to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you or express what your wishes are regarding these decisions.
Powers of attorney only address financial matters, not health care matters. Your agent under your power of attorney will not be allowed to make your health care decisions, although you can specify other decisions and actions that they can take while you are alive. The same person can be your POA and Health Care Proxy but you will need separate legal documents.
Also, a Will does not take effect until after your death and so does not apply while you are alive.
If you want to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you, you should complete a Health Care Proxy. If you do not want to name a health care agent, you can still use a Living Will to express your health care wishes. On the right hand side of this page you can see and print out a sample of a Living Will.
Click to download a Draft of a Living Will.
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for all of your help and legal guidance on behalf of my cousin, while she was alive and in handling her and my step-fathers estates. As I now have three attorneys in my family, I can only hope that they will have mentors such as you, to guide them in the legal profession. -S Bass