Law Enforcement Committee
Pro Bono Program

Martin A. Danoff, Chairman

230 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10169
(212) 573-6064

You may call me to ask any legal question on the above dates other than the ones listed. This is not a lecture or seminar program. It is only a telephone-answer program. There is no written or printed information distributed. The service is pro bono for the benefit of Masons and their families. The advice is the opinion of this chairman and it is suggested that you also consult an attorney of your own choice.

The committee and its chairman are not responsible for the opinions given. This program is set up to answer your questions about any legal matter over the telephone. Please call my law offices at (212) 573-6064 to ask your question. I would appreciate your being brief and coming to the point.


Feb 21

Selling or Buying a home/condo

Mar 20

Auto Accidents

Apr 27

Avoiding Probate by Trusts

May 15

Employment Discrimination

June 19

Selling or Buying a Business

July 17

Leaving Money to Masonry

August 21

Health Proxy and Living Will

September 18

Divorce, Separation & Support

October 23

Your Annual Legal Checkup

November 20

Slip, Fall & Building Accidents

December 18

End of the Year Legal Questions


Elder Law concerns for all Masons and their families

Adults who become incapable of caring for themselves, their property or their dependents may have a guardian appointed for them. However, guardianships can be avoided through the use of a living will (health care proxy) and a power of attorney. In such circumstances, personal preferences can be respected without the need for a court-appointed guardian. A living will (health care proxy) and a durable power of attorney can become effective when a person is temporarily or permanently unable to handle his or her financial or personal affairs due to illness or injury.

Consult a lawyer before anything happens to you and while you are still physically, mentally and emotionally capable of making important and crucial decisions about your future status. Tell the lawyer that you want to prepare a health care proxy/living will and durable power of attorney. You choose who will be your health care agent or agents for the health care proxy and you also choose the person or persons who will be your attorney-in-fact for the durable power of attorney. If you then become temporarily or permanently impaired or disabled, these individuals will be able to act in your place to make health and financial decisions. Your bills will be paid, your taxes will be filed and paid, you will have a place to live, you will have your social security and retirement benefits collected, your stocks and bonds will be taken care of and your medical needs will met. Also a health proxy/living will will avoid family discord or even lawsuits over medical care. The law ordinarily requires your health care providers to follow the directives of a valid living will, even if they conflict with medical advice or the wishes of family members. Without a living will/health care proxy, disagreement among medical care providers or family members can result in costly legal battles over proper treatment. Your lawyer can help you prepare a living will/health care proxy that includes the specific instructions you want.

A durable power of attorney is a document that authorizes one person, the agent, to act on behalf of another person, you. A durable power of attorney remains in effect even if you become unable to handle your own affairs. However, both a limited and a durable power of attorney terminate at your death. A durable power of attorney can be used to authorize your agent to handle financial and other matters. For example, your power of attorney can authorize your agent to invest your money and pay for the support of others you designate, pay your bills, collect interest and dividends and rent, and to take care of your personal matters. A durable power of attorney can be invaluable if you are unable to make decisions as result of incompetence or unconsciousness. If you are facing surgery, a durable power of attorney can be prepared to take effect as soon as you sign it. Or your durable power of attorney can provide that it should become effective only when a doctor certifies that you have become incapacitated.

Should you become incapacitated without having a durable power of attorney, you may need a guardian. Guardianship is a legal procedure by which a court declares an adult incompetent and appoints someone to manage financial matters, living arrangements and medical care decisions. The procedure is sometimes referred to as conservatorship, custodianship or civil commitment. Older adults do not need a guardian simply by reason of age or minor mental or physical impairments, provided they are still able to manage their personal and financial affairs. Also guardianship is ordinarily not necessary for an incapacitated person who has appointed an agent under a durable power of attorney. Guardianships may also be preferred if you fear that your family members will try to force their interests, rather than yours, upon your agent or doctor. However, guardianships are more expensive that powers of attorney because of court fees, bond premiums and fees of experts who will testify during the legal proceeding. Just remember, a visit to a lawyer provides you with the opportunity to ask for help in planning for possible incapacity and seeking the right advice. You should plan ahead so that your needs and desires can be followed in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury.

This article was taken from Blumbergexcelsior 1997 pamphlet. This article does not provide legal advice about specific legal problems so consult a lawyer for the exact answers to your questions.