Do I need a living will to address end-of-life decisions in New York State? 


Estate planning not only includes actions to be taken after a person’s death with regard to their assets and liabilities, but it also documents actions to be taken in an advance care directive for medical care in the event an individual cannot speak for themselves.  An experienced  New York Estate planning attorney can assist in the completion of a living will, utilized by people who have no one to act as a health care agent on their behalf, to provide clear medical instructions to  care givers when an individual is unable to communicate their wishes.  Common end-of-life care decisions that could be outlined in a living will include:

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to restart a heart when it stops beating. Determine if and when resuscitation by CPR or a device that stimulates the heart should be undertaken.
  • Mechanical ventilation takes over breathing when someone is unable to breathe on their own. Be clear about if, and how long a person should be on a ventilator.
  • Tube feeding supplies the body with nutrients and fluids intravenously or via a tube in the stomach. Clarify if, and how long tube feeding should continue.
  • Dialysis removes waste from your blood and manages fluid levels if your kidneys no longer function. Specify if, and how long treatment should continue.
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medications can be used to treat many infections. Determine if treatment should be undertaken.
  • Comfort care (palliative care) includes any number of interventions that may be used to keep an individual comfortable and manage pain, including wishes to die at home, receiving pain medications, oral relief with ice chips to soothe mouth dryness, and avoiding invasive tests or treatments.
  • Organ and tissue donations for transplantation can be specified in a living will. If organs are removed for donation, life-sustaining treatment may continue temporarily until the procedure is complete.
  • Donating a body for scientific study also can be specified.

Creating advance directives.

In New York, living wills are valid as long as they: provide “clear and convincing” evidence of  a person’s wishes in writing, are signed by a person 18 years of age or older, are witnessed by two individuals, and provide a signed statement that an individual appeared to willingly sign the document. If possible, the form should be notarized, so that it may be recognized in states that require notarization.

Seek counsel.

Contact Attorney Ron Meyers in New York to help with legal planning documents that spell out wishes in the event you cannot speak for yourself.  Keep the originals in a safe and easily accessible place.  A copy should be given to an individual’s doctor, healthcare agent, and informed family members.  It is safe to carry a wallet-sized card indicating advance directives.


Ron L. Meyers & Associates, PLLC

Address:  475 Park Avenue South, Suite 2100

Manhattan, NY 10016

Phone: 212-644-8787





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