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Glenn W. Magnell

Attorney at Law


162 Main Street, Goshen  NY  10924   & 151 Continental Rd, Cornwall, NY 12518

Phone: 845-294-0585   Email:

Orange County NY, Putnam County NY, Dutchess County NY, Ulster County NY, Rockland County NY, Sullivan County, NY, Westchester County NY

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Living Wills, Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorney, Pre-Hospitalization DNR's

Recent events in the news have brought to people's attention the need to do advance planning in order to assure that their wishes regarding disability care and end-of-life care are followed.  There are two sets of issues that everyone should think about and plan for.  First, there is the question of what will happen to you and your estate should you become mentally incapacitated; second, there is the question of what kind of health care you wish to receive if you are either terminally ill or permanently mentally disabled such that you are not able to make your wishes known to your caregivers.  All of these issues can be addressed, in advance, by executing a set of legally valid documents that combine to insure that your wishes will be carried out, even if you are no longer able to make your wishes known at the time the questions arise.  The governing law for these issues varies by state.  In New York State, there are at least three documents you should make sure you have prepared in advance:  (1) A Living Will; (2) A Health Care Proxy; and (3) A Power of Attorney.  In addition to planning for serious illness or illness that may cause incapacitation, you should also have prepared a comprehensive Last Will and Testament  in order to insure that your estate is distributed as you would wish and that this is done with the minimum amount of delay and potential dispute.

What is a Living Will?

Also known as an Advance Health Care Declaration, a Living Will is a document that contains your written wishes regarding the kind of health care you should receive if you are not capable of directing the care yourself.  It can explicitly lay out the kind of care you wish to receive under different circumstances and the kind of care or treatment you do not wish to receive.  In New York State, there is no statutory foundation recognizing Living Wills, though NYS courts have upheld their validity.  A Living Will can be very important in directing the person you have designated as your Health Care Proxy as to the kind of care you do and do not wish to receive.  If you live in New York, you should prepare or have prepared for you both a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy.  In general, Living Wills should be as specific as possible regarding the kind of treatments and under what circumstances they should or should not be administered.  The use of terms like 'Heroic Care' should be avoided since they have no specific definition and can lead to unnecessary disputes.

What is a Health Care Proxy?

A Health Care Proxy is a document that designates another person to make decisions regarding your health care should you not be able to direct your care yourself.  The validity of Health Care Proxies is specifically recognized under NYS Law and should always be prepared in conjunction with a Living Will.  The person you designate to act as your health care proxy should be someone you trust to carry out your wishes as you have expressed them in your living will.  A health care proxy gives the power to make all of the health care decisions that you would have the power to make if you were not incapacitated.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a document that gives another party the legal authority to make decisions and manage affairs for you.  There are two basic varieties of Powers of Attorney: a Durable Power of Attorney and a Springing Power of Attorney.  A durable Power of Attorney is valid from the time it is executed, and its powers can be exercised at any time.  A Springing Power of Attorney only becomes operational upon the occurrence of a pre-determined event or set of events (such as your mental incapacitation).  Normally, Powers of Attorney are executed in order to provide another person with the legal authority to manage or assist in managing your financial affairs when you are either incapable or not fully capable of complete participation in managing those affairs.  In some states, a Power of Attorney for Health Care may be executed in order to meet needs that a Health Care Proxy fulfills in New York State.  In NYS, a Power of Attorney for Health Care is not necessary if a Health Care Proxy has been executed.

What is a DNR Order?

DNR stands for 'Do Not Resuscitate' and a DNR Order is a document that you can sign upon entering a hospital, or other critical care facility, directing that facility not to resuscitate you if you experience a medical event that would otherwise result in your death.  Typically, DNR's are intended to prevent the use of artificial means to keep a person alive when there is virtually no hope of any meaningful degree of recovery.  Some people execute advance or 'pre-hospitalization' DNR's in order to assure that these kinds of artificial measures are not taken even though an individual was brought to a hospital in an incapacitated condition (and therefore, unable to sign a DNR upon admission to the hospital).

What is a Last Will and Testament? (click here)

For a complete explanation of what a Last Will and Testament is, how they work and what purpose they serve, click here.

Contact Information (printer-friendly contact info)

If you would like a consultation or wish to arrange for representation on any Social Security matter, criminal matter, drawing up a living will, testamentary will, trust and estate planning or health care proxy, you can contact Glenn W. Magnell at either his Goshen or Cornwall offices. 

       Goshen Office: 162 Main Street, Goshen, N.Y. 10924    Phone: 845-294-0585    Fax: 845-926-4091

Cornwall Office: 151 Continental Road, Cornwall, N.Y. 12518   Phone: 845-534-7848  Fax: 845-926-4091


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Please note: Information on this website is intended to inform, not to advise.  No one should attempt to interpret or apply any law without the assistance of an attorney that is familiar with that area of law, the rules of the court involved and the specific facts of each individual case.