Kerry O'Shaughnessy Montaigne, Esq.

62-57 Woodhaven Boulevard                      7 Violet Avenue
Rego Park, New York 11374                        Floral Park, New York 11001
(718) 424-1233                                            (516) 326-1233

Kerry's Blog                                                
Welcome to my new blog.  In this blog, I will touch on some issues and topics in the Elder Care field.  If you have any issues you would like for me to address, please feel free to email me at and  I will do my best to include that question in a subsequent blog.

What is a Health Care Proxy?  This is a question I frequently receive from clients or potential clients.  A Health Care Proxy is a document that allows you (the principal) to appoint another person (your agent) to make medical decisions for you only if you lose the ability to make these decisions for yourself.  It is important when deciding on your agent to appoint someone that you trust to make these life altering decisions.  Also, the person who is appointed must be able to make the decisions with clarity and strength.  I emphasize to clients that it is important to keep the lines of communication open with your agent so that the agent is clear about your wants and desires.  You want to be clear with your agent on events whereby you want life sustaining treatment so that if the time comes when the Health Care Proxy has to be utilized, your wishes regarding your own care are fulfilled.  A Living Will is a document whereby you state with clear and convincing evidence whether you want certain measures taken to keep you alive when you are in a terminal condition with no hope of recovery or a persistent vegetative state.  The Living Will serves as a statement of your wishes.  However, it is important to execute both a Health Care Proxy as well as a Living Will.  You need the Health Care agent to be able to express your decisions in the particular instance.  If there is any doubt, the Living Will is the document whereby you have stated your wishes with clarity for all of the world to know.

My mother can no longer care for herself and we have done no planning for this event, is it too late?  This is a problem that I, unfortunately, come across on an all too frequent basis.  As a general rule, it is better to start planning well before the need arises.  However, that is not reality for most people.  Each case is unique based on the individual's needs and assets, but it is possible to plan even at a late date.  I always recommend to anyone who finds themselves in this situation to come in for a consultation and see if I can develop a plan to preserve as many of the family's assets as possible while also obtaining the most support and care for the individual.  It is important to seek a professional's advice on such matters as there is an enormous amount of misinformation about what can and can't be done in a such a situation.  Remember, the professional knows many planning techniques that a nursing home may not know.  The professional knows certain questions to ask to determine if certain planning measures can be utilized effectively.  

Execution of a Last Will and Testament.  When you execute a Last Will and Testament, here are a few important tips to remember about safeguarding this extremely important document:

1.    Remember, only the original Will is valid.  Copies are for informational purposes only. 
2.    There can be no handwritten changes to a Will.  These kinds of changes are not valid so do not write on your Will for any reason. 
3.    Never remove the staples from your Will.  It gives the appearance of irregularity.  If you need to make copies of the Will, it must be done with the staples in place. 
4.    If your original Will is lost, the law presumes that you revoked it.  Therefore, keep it in a safe place such as a fire proof box at home.  Make sure family members know where your will is stored so it can be located if the need arises. 

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