Estate Planning and Advance Directives

Creating an estate plan is an important step in ensuring that you and your family are protected. A will, health care proxy, and power of attorney are essential tools that direct how your property will be distributed, your end of life decisions followed, and your financial matters managed.

Everyone should have an estate plan and LGBTQ individuals should approach this issue acknowledging that we still face discrimination as well as efforts to deny legal recognition of our relationships. Although discussing end of life issues can be emotionally challenging, Teresa walks through each step of the process with compassion and understanding, which helps make these future decisions less stressful. Teresa will help you create a sustainable estate plan that is comprehensive, reflects your intentions and supports your principles and values


A will is a legal document that states how your property will be distributed upon your death. You can also make arrangements for the care of your children in your will by appointing a guardian. If you die without a will New York State law determines how your property is distributed. Careful planning will be easier on your family and friends and provide you with the peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out.

End of Life Decision-Making

End of life decisions can be challenging and difficult for friends and family members caring for a loved one. Mentally competent adults have the right to control their own medical treatment. But if an adult is unable to communicate with doctors and other health care professionals about their medical treatment, advance directives can play a critical role. Advance directives can help you prepare for the end of life and make decisions consistent with your principles and values. Clearly stating your intentions may ease some of the burden your loved ones endure during end of life situations and can reduce or even eliminate disagreements between friends and family members.

With appropriate planning and by implementing the right legal documents, you can provide instructions, guidance and support to your loved ones as they work with your health care providers.

Health Care Proxy and Living Will

A health care proxy allows you to appoint an individual called a health care agent, to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your wishes to your doctor and other medical professionals.

A living will or medical directive is a document that specifies the type of life sustaining medical treatments or procedures you would withhold or withdraw under certain circumstances.

Both documents allow you to exercise control over your medical and health care decision-making and ensure that your wishes are followed.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document in which an individual appoints an agent to handle financial transactions. A power of attorney is a critical advance directive tool because it allows another person to act on your behalf to pay your bills and manage your assets. If you are unable to manage your finances and assets and do not have a power of attorney someone will have to file a court proceeding to be appointed as your guardian. This proceeding can be both time consuming and costly.

Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains

This document allows you to designate an individual to have control of your remains. Absent such a designation, New York State law provides that a person’s next of kin has the right to control the remains.