When it comes to estate planning, one of the most important factors to consider is choosing the right people to be your trusted agents to step in for you if you cannot manage yourself. In order for your plan to work, you need to have people ready, willing and able to serve on your behalf.

So, what would be the legal roles you would need to fill in order for your estate plan work?

Advance Medical Directives

For medical decisions, the most common planning documents we use include a Health Care Proxy, Living Will, and HIPAA Release and Authorization. With these advance medical directives, you can choose an agent you trust to make medical decisions if you are unable to make them yourself.

A HIPAA release allows your agent to obtain medical records and speak to treating physicians.  With respect to Health Care Proxies and Living Wills, not all documents are created and treated equally. There are secular documents, and halachic documents for those who are observant. The difference between them is that with a halachic Health Care Proxy/Living Will, you can designate a reliable Rabbinic authority for your agent to consult in case there is a question for your care and treatment. In this way, your agent knows you and your wishes, and you can ensure decisions that are made on your behalf are made according to Jewish law.

Powers of Attorney

You can also choose one or more people to serve as your agent under a Power of Attorney. The person you choose as your agent in this role would serve for purposes of making financial decisions if you could not make them yourself. Your agent would be able to do things like pay your bills, manage your pensions, even run your business if you wanted to give them the broad authority necessary to do that. Or you can make their authority more limiting if you wish.

One thing to keep in mind with a Power of Attorney, it can only be used while you are still living. Once you are gone, it would be illegal to use it.

The Role of Trustee

One of the main planning tools we use are called Trusts. Trusts are truly beneficial for most people. They serve as a Will alternative, or in addition to a Will in your estate plan and prepare you legally for the possibility of incapacity or disability.

I can’t imagine anyone wanting their loved ones to be arguing before a judge, who knows nothing about you, your wishes, or your family members, to give them the legal authority to make medical and financial decisions for you because you are unable to make them yourself. When you plan right, you can ensure your family members stay out of court and out of conflict.  And, with Trusts, your agent, also known as your Trustee, can distribute your belongings easily, quickly and efficiently without any court intervention whatsoever, while you’re still living and after you’re gone.


To find out more about choosing the right agent, call today 718-514-7575 and schedule your appointment. Mention this article and receive your FREE consultation. This is a $500 value, but worth so much more.

Monet Binder, Esq., has her practice in Queens, dedicated to protecting families, their legacies, and values. All halachic documents are approved by the Bais Havaad Halacha Center in Lakewood, under the direction of Rabbi Dovid Grossman and the guidance of Harav Shmuel Kaminetsky, shlita, as well as other leading halachic authorities. To learn more about how a power of attorney can help you, you can send her an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call 718-514-7575.

 The information in this article is intended solely for your information. It does not constitute legal advice, and it should not be relied on without a discussion of your specific situation with an attorney.