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Important estate planning documents beyond basic wills

New York State residents who take the necessary steps in drafting estate planning documents like wills might think they have done enough to handle most situations. However, that is frequently not the case. There are other documents that might be important and, depending on the strategies the person has in mind, could be even more vital than a will. Most people do not take their estate plan as seriously as they should and it can not only affect their loved ones, but it can affect the testator as many documents are related to end of life planning.

A living will is for those who have medical treatments that they do and do not want. With this vital document, loved ones will not be burdened with trying to determine what the testator wanted and did not want - it will detail everything. A health proxy is so an incapacitated person will have another person to make the decisions. For example, if a person does not want artificial intervention to maintain life, it will be up to the health proxy to stop medical professionals from taking that step.

A durable power of attorney ensures that if the person becomes incapacitated, his or her bills will continue to be paid and other financial issues will be handled appropriately despite their condition. Do not resuscitate and do not intubate orders are relatively self-explanatory. Some people do not want to be kept alive if it means they will be on a respirator. With a DNR, it is vital that it be somewhere that is easily accessible because in an emergency, medical professionals will not wait to see if it is part of the person's estate plan to be resuscitated or not. The DNI prevents the intubation with machines that will maintain life.

These are just some of the common documents that people might want as they prepare their estate plan. New ones are coming up such as documents to deal with digital assets and POLST, or physician order for life-sustaining treatment. Having legal advice when estate planning is crucial to having all the necessary documentation for the various scenarios.

Source: cnbc.com, "Got a will? Here are 11 more end-of-life documents you may need," Kelli B. Grant, Nov. 15, 2017

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