Living Wills in New York State


If you are a New York state resident, you have the right to dictate your health care wishes through a living will. A living will lets you tell your family and health care providers what you want to happen in the event you fall ill or are otherwise unable to communicate. Talk to a New York attorney if you need legal advice about living wills.

Living Will

A living will is a legal document in which you state your desires about the kind of medical treatment you want to receive when you are incapacitated. Though there is no requirement that New York residents create a living will, anyone who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind can create one.


New York state does not have a specific statute addressing the use or creation of living wills. However, the New York courts have ruled that a person can create a living will as long as the document provides "clear and convincing" proof that it contains the declarant's wishes. Because of this, there is no one form that you must use to create a living will. The form suggested by the Attorney General's Office requires you to sign the living will and have it signed by two witnesses.


New York living wills can be as detailed or as limited as you wish. The simplest form of a living will is limited to dictating whether you want to receive life sustaining treatment if you have a terminal illness, or contains instructions about when you want life support terminated. You can also, however, include specific desires about as many situations as you can think of.

Health Care Proxy

New York also allows residents to appoint a health care proxy. A health care proxy is a document that allows you to appoint a person who makes health care decisions for you when you are incapacitated. To make a New York health care proxy, you must also be at least 18 and of sound mind. You must appoint a proxy in writing, sign the document and have it signed by two witnesses, neither of whom can act as your health care proxy.

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