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Westchester County Elder Law Attorney Anthony J. Enea Offers Insight on Last Wills and Advance Directives

According to a new study released earlier this month by Age Wave and Merrill Lynch, nearly half of Americans over 55 have not created a last will and testament and fewer still have executed a healthcare proxy and/or durable power of attorney. Westchester elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea, member at Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in White Plains and Somers, N.Y., recently shed light on the importance of last wills and advance directives including the potential negative implications that can be avoided once they are in effect.

A last will and testament allows an individual to specify how (and to whom) their assets are to be distributed after they pass away. While a last will does not control jointly held assets, if a spouse passes away with assets in his or her name alone and no named beneficiary, the lack of a last will can have significant negative consequences. Mr. Enea believes that every adult, whether they are married, single, have children, or don’t have children, can benefit from executing a last will and testament.

“Without any written plan whatsoever, your intended wishes as to whom will receive your estate and handle your affairs can easily go by the wayside,” said Mr. Enea, who has spent the past three decades protecting the rights of seniors, the disabled and their families. “In the absence of a last will and/or trust, the laws governing intestate distribution (not your wishes) will control the outcome of your estate — and virtually anyone can apply to be the estate’s administrator.”

The new study, Leaving a Legacy: A Lasting Gift to Loved Ones, revealed that among those age 55 and older, only 55 percent had executed a last will and a mere 18 percent have a last will, durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy in place.

“All power of attorneys are not created equal and, unfortunately, this document is all too often an afterthought in many estate and long term care plans,” noted Mr. Enea. “The most frequently seen problem with a standard short form durable power of attorney form is its lack of broad gifting powers. This prevents the agent from making transfers to protect the assets of a principal that has become disabled or taken ill. In the absence of broad powers, the incapacitated person's family must often commence a guardianship proceeding with the court to obtain the powers to make the necessary transfer. It is an expensive and time-consuming procedure.”

Enea continued, “Regarding your healthcare proxy, it’s important to ensure that you only have one named agent and alternate agent. All too often the proxy is executed with two named agents, which is not legally permitted in New York. Your agent should also know your specific wishes regarding your health care and end of life in case you are no longer able to make these decisions.”

A strong leader in Westchester’s legal community, Mr. Enea is chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Senior Lawyers Section and president of the Westchester County Bar Foundation. He was named Westchester County’s Leading Elder Care Attorney at the Above the Bar Awards and Best Lawyers’ 2019 Trusts & Estates “Lawyer of the Year” in White Plains. A past chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section, Mr. Enea’s practice areas include elder law; Medicaid asset protection trusts; Medicaid applications (home care and nursing home); special needs planning; guardianships (Article 81 and 17-A); and wills, trusts and estates.

Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is located at 245 Main Street in White Plains, N.Y. with additional offices in Somers, N.Y. Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea can be reached at 914-948-1500 or For the latest news, visit Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano online at

About Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is an AV preeminent rated elder law firm with offices in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. The practice concentrates on Elder Law; Medicaid Planning; Nursing Home and Home Care Applications; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Guardianships; Estate Litigation; Supplemental Needs Trusts; and Special Needs Planning. Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP serves Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Queens and is committed to providing the highest quality legal services to seniors, the disabled and their families. Visit the firm online at

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