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TOTAL LIFE CHOICES

Implementing individual rights

It is important for individuals to safeguard their rights and dignity should they be or become incapacitated. This may be achieved by appointing trusted family members of incapacitated adults to make decisions if needed, or by cementing the wishes of those seeking to plan for their own incapacity or death. When a family member dies, individuals may wish to obtain their loved one’s belongings, but do not know how to do so.

This is where our Total Life Choices (TLC) program comes in. Our breadth of knowledge and services are unique, critical, and atypical in the not-for-profit sector. We assist in four main areas:

Tools such as last wills and testaments and powers of attorney are often viewed as only necessary for the wealthy and medical advance directives and appointments to designate an agent to handle remains are considered secondary in importance.

In reality, for our clients, planning ahead is crucial to ensure that someone may act in their stead to maintain access to essential benefits, obtain medical care in light of their wishes, and potentially fend off predators of the elderly. For those with capacity, proper advance planning negates the need to petition for guardianship, an onerous proceeding beyond the realm of possibility for our client’s family members.

Persons with little means who care for those who never had or have lost capacity are underserved and have very few options to obtain assistance. TLC assists with guardianship proceedings for caretakers of developmentally disabled individuals and provides legal solutions for trusted family members caring for a person who has lost capacity. As most guardianship requests for persons who have lost capacity are not warranted, TLC assists numerous frustrated New Yorkers who were told to obtain guardianship over a loved one by proposing possible alternatives to guardianship. 

When a person has passed away and their property needs to be distributed, TLC steps in to assist with probate, administration or other mechanisms so that a family member who is unable to hire a private attorney (either because the estate is minimal or because a family home that houses remaining family members is the sole estate asset) may obtain the decedent’s belongings. TLC also provides guidance to family members of the decedent to understand the relevant laws in New York State, and helps overcome their frustrations or anxieties. 

TLC works to prevent elder abuse and to solidify elder rights through proper screening and the preparation of legal documentation. Additionally, TLC provides guidance and solutions to redress grievances where rights of a senior have been violated.

“Thank you so much for your help in presiding over my will signing. Your patience with explaining everything and answering my questions is greatly appreciated. I am so grateful for NYLAG being able to provide such a wonderful service”

- Former TLC client

Services

Our TLC program helps clients make critical plans for the future. We offer the following legal services:

  • Advice, counsel and execution of medical advance directives, last wills and testaments, powers of attorney, and appointments of agent to control disposition of remains
  • Guidance with probate and administration proceedings as well as providing guidance for non-probate assets
  • Vetting for the need of an article 81 guardianship proceeding and implementation of alternative solutions to support a family member who has lost capacity
  • Vetting for the need of an article 17-A guardianship proceeding and assistance to obtain guardianship over a developmentally disabled individual
  • Education of the general public as well as medical and social services professionals

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In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are still working hard and our intake lines are open, but please note that our physical office is closed.

During these unprecedented times, we’ve launched a free NY COVID-19 Legal Resources Hotline and compiled the latest legal and financial counseling updates.