Do I Need to Have My New York Living Will Witnessed or Notarized?

In New York, you must sign your health care directives in front of two witnesses.

In New York, you may describe your wishes for health care in a living will and health care power of attorney.

Though New York's legal code does not contain a section authorizing living wills, state case law and the U.S. Constitution establish your right to make the document. In your living will, you can describe and document the kind of health care you would like to receive if you can no longer speak for yourself.

In addition, you may use a health care proxy (commonly called a health care power of attorney) to name a trusted person to make health care decisions on your behalf.

Sign Your New York Health Care Directives in Front of Two Witnesses

After you create your documents, you and two witnesses must sign them. Neither of your witnesses may be:

  • under the age of 18
  • your health care agent, or
  • the person who signed the declaration for you, if you were unable to sign it for yourself.

If you reside in a mental health facility, your witnesses must meet additional requirements. Ask your mental health care provider for more information.

What to Do With Your Signed Health Care Documents

After you and your witnesses sign your documents, they are legally valid. Keep the original in your files and give copies to your health care agent, if you named one. To ensure that you get the health care that you want, it’s a good idea to make your wishes widely known. You might also consider giving copies of your documents to your physician, your hospital, your HMO or other insurance plan, and trusted family members and friends.

Review your documents every few years to make sure that it still reflects your wishes. Also, consider making new documents if you move to another state, get married or divorced, or if your agent is no longer able to supervise your wishes.

Your properly finalized documents will stay in effect until you revoke them, if you ever choose to do so. You can revoke them at any time, the best way to do so is in writing. If possible, also collect and tear up all copies that you may have distributed to others. Finally, tell everyone who knows about your health care documents that you have revoked them.

Learn More

Learn more about Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney.

Learn more about New York Living Wills and Health Care Proxies.

When you make your health care directive with Quicken WillMaker Plus, it will conform to all of New York’s laws about documents directing health care and health care proxies. It will also print with plain English instructions that detail how to make it legal.

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