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Living Will, Legal Forms - Choosing Who Will Handle Your Health Care Proxy (by Lynn Brenner) - Part II



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Choosing Who Will Handle Your Health Care Proxy (by Lynn Brenner) - Part II.

New York law lets you name only one health care agent. "If you don't want to offend anybody by leaving them out, you can appoint one family member as your agent and name the others as successor agents," says Russo. "And if you're in your 70s or 80s and appoint one of your contemporaries," he adds, "the successors should be younger."
Your agent should also live near you, or be willing and able to travel and stay nearby if it becomes necessary. "Distance really doesn't matter when you name an executor, a Trustee or a Power of Attorney," says Stephen J. Silverberg, an East Meadow elder care attorney. "Telephone, fax and e-mail have made it a small world. But for health care decisions, I prefer a local agent. Doctors aren't as easily consulted over the phone."
One reason a Health Care Proxy is such a simple document is that it doesn't give any instructions. It merely names an agent and says that he or she knows your wishes and has your authority to carry them out. You can make your agent's job less stressful by also signing a Living Will, says Russo.
A Living Will does give instructions. It says, for example, whether you do or don't want to be kept alive with a feeding tube in the event that there's no hope you'll recover. Living Will forms are available at Legal stationery stores, too, and some religious organizations even provide their own. (An Orthodox Jewish Living Will provides for a rabbi to be involved in the decision-making, for example.) But you may want a Lawyer to enhance an off-the-shelf document for you. A custom-tailored Living Will addresses issues not covered in the standard form, says Russo – like whether you want medication to alleviate pain even if it shortens your life, and whether you want to be kept alive on machines for a short time if that's necessary to be an organ donor.
(Continue part III)
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