Virginia Health Care Directives and Living Wills You Can Trust
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Reliable Virginia Health Care Directives and Living Wills
If you are ever suffering from a serious medical condition, you may become unable to communicate your treatment wishes. Your family members may then consent to treatments for you that you would not have wanted. With a health care directive and living will, you can make your own health care choices in advance of medical incapacity. Although this is unpleasant to consider, it may give you peace of mind knowing that you have made selections for yourself on future medical issues. This may even spare your loved ones from strife over conflicting opinions on your treatment.
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Create your health care directive & living will in under an hour.
Answer Some Questions
Decide who will be your health care agent/proxy and which medical treatments you would request or refuse.
Create an Account
Creating an account is easy, quick, and secure. Save your information as you go and return when you have time.
Complete Your Document
Once you answer the relevant questions, we do the hard part and create your unique document.
Sign & Make It Legal
Sign your document according to the instructions. Keep the signed form, and give a copy to your doctors and agent/proxy.
What’s Next To Make My Virginia Health Care Directive and Living Will Valid?
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Make decisions on future medical issues.
A health care directive and living will is a type of advance medical directive (an “advance directive“). Any competent adult can use a health care directive and living will to make advance decisions on potential future medical treatments. Your doctors will refer to this document if you become unable to give informed consent on your health care options. In Virginia, you can give details on the specific types of medical procedures you would request or refuse under these circumstances.
Further, you should consider your preferences in the event that you are ever diagnosed with a terminal condition. You will need to decide whether you would refuse life-prolonging treatments that only delay the natural dying process. Life-prolonging procedures include treatments such as artificial ventilation (respirators), feeding tubes, and intravenous fluids. If you would prefer not to receive these treatments, you can make this clear through your health care directive and living will.
It can be tempting to avoid this topic, but it’s wise to act early and make these difficult decisions in advance of an incapacitating medical situation. By doing so, you will have expressed your own decisions on your future medical care. You should discuss these choices with your loved ones or a trusted doctor if you have any trouble deciding.
Choose a health care agent.
In Virginia, you can choose someone to make health care decisions for you in case you become unable to make them for yourself. This person is typically called a health care agent or a health care proxy. Their duty is to carry out the terms of your health care directive and living will and to advocate for your wishes. If they do not know what your health care choice would have been in any circumstance, they should act in your best interests with your values and preferences in mind.
You do not have to select a health care agent, but you may want to. It can be good to know that there is a trusted person ready to direct your medical care if you become unable to. The legal document you use to designate a health care agent is called a “medical power of attorney” or “health care power of attorney.” However, your health care agent does not have to be an attorney. They should be someone you trust who understands the kinds of care you would consent to.
If you do not limit their authority, your health care agent will be able to:
- Authorize the withdrawal and administration of medical procedures in the event of a terminal condition
- Agree to the provision of medications
- Consent to diagnostic procedures
- Hire and fire medical staff on your behalf
- Access your medical records
- Make decisions on any other medical issues for you
When selecting a health care agent, there are a number of factors to consider. You should choose the person you trust the most with your medical decisions because they will have broad authority over your treatment.
Further, you should choose someone who is capable of being assertive with your family and medical staff to advocate for your health care wishes. Logistical issues such as proximity may factor into your decision too. The person you choose should be capable of being at your side promptly when you need them. Many people choose a close loved one, such as a parent, sibling, spouse, or adult child for this important responsibility.
Sign your health care directive and living will.
Distribute your advance directives.
After properly signing your advance directives, you need to make sure to distribute them to the right people. Make sure to give a copy to your health care agent so that they understand your medical treatment wishes and can advocate for your decisions.
Next, you need to give copies to your medical providers so that they can carry out your wishes if necessary. It’s also a good idea to provide your close loved ones with your advance directives and place a copy in a secure location they have access to.
Finally, you should consider submitting your advance directives to Virginia’s Advance Health Care Directive Registry. This is a secure online database that you can use to store your advance directives. In the case of emergency, your doctors will be able to request your advance directives from this state-affiliated registry.
Update your advance directives.
After you have signed and distributed your advance directives, it’s a good idea to review them from time to time. Generally, you should look over your selections every few years at least. However, certain life situations may pop up that require you to make changes sooner.
For instance, if you have gone through a divorce with your health care agent, you will probably want to name a new trusted person to make medical decisions for you. A change in medical diagnosis or advances in medical technology may cause you to change your mind on certain medical selections in your health care directive and living will.
Whatever the reason, it is your right to change your mind on health care decisions at any time you are capable of doing so. Rest assured that when you buy a health care directive and living will through FindLaw, you can make unlimited updates free of charge for a year after purchase.
You May Want to Speak With a Lawyer if:
- Your family disagrees with your medical choices
- You don’t know who to appoint as your agent
- You have questions about life prolonging measures
- You want legal review of your completed document
Ready to get started on Your Virginia healthcare directive & living will? It’s free to start.Create My Form
Virginia Health Care Directive and Living Will FAQs
No. Living wills and wills have deceptively similar names, but they are very different legal documents.
A last will and testament (a “will”) is the key estate planning document. You can use a will to provide for the distribution of your personal property and real property after your death. If you have minor children, you can name guardians for them through your will too.
A living will allows you to give instructions to your medical staff on the removal or withholding on medical procedures that you would not want in the event of a terminal condition. You can also use your living will to request specific treatments. If you wish to leave anatomical gifts after your death, you can do this through your living will too. But you cannot use a living will to describe how you would like your property to be distributed after your death. FindLaw uses the more specific term “health care directive and living will” to describe this document.
Both a will and a living will can be part of a comprehensive estate plan. Your will covers the distribution of your assets after your death, and your living will details your future medical wishes.
Yes. Your out-of-state health care directive and living will is valid under Virginia law if you complied with the laws of the state where you created it, or if it complies with Virginia law.
However, if you just relocated to Virginia, it might be a good time to review your estate plan (including your advance directives). You may wish to name a new health care agent if your move takes you far away from the person you had named before. Further, if you have a new medical team, this could cause you to rethink the selections in your health care directive and living will.
You can create an updated health care directive and living will that’s tailored to Virginia law with FindLaw’s easy process in under an hour.
If you do not choose a health care agent, your medical staff will need to find someone else to consent to health care on your behalf. Under Virginia law, your doctor will then need to reach out to the following individuals, in this order:
- Your guardian (if you have one)
- Your spouse, unless you have filed for divorce
- One of your adult children
- Your parent
- An adult sibling
- Another close relative
If none of the above individuals are available, an adult who has shown special care for you can make health care decisions on your behalf. This person must be familiar with your religious beliefs or other values and your medical wishes. They cannot be the agent, employee, or director of your health care provider. Although this person would be able to make most health care decisions for you, they would not be able to make decisions on the withholding of life-sustaining procedures.
If you would like a person of your choice to make medical decisions for you, you should sign a medical power of attorney form. A medical power of attorney empowers you to name a health care agent and alternate agent that you want. For many people, this is preferable to relying on default state laws.
Yes, your health care providers will treat you for pain and provide you with comfort care no matter what choices you make in your health care directive and living will. If you have any specific wishes for pain management, you can give additional instructions on this in your health care directive and living will. You should discuss this with your health care agent if you choose one.
Yes, your medical professionals have a duty to follow the instructions in your advance directives. Under Virginia’s health care statutes, your health care professionals must make reasonable efforts to transfer you to another physician if they are unwilling to honor the terms of your advance directives.
You have the right to change your mind about your health care decisions. You can do so at any time you are capable of understanding the consequences of your advance directives. You can perform a revocation through several methods under Virginia law:
- Through a signed and dated written revocation
- By physically destroying your health care directive and living will or directing someone to do so on your behalf
- Through an oral expression of revocation
You can revoke parts of your health care directive and living will while leaving others intact if you so choose.
Although you can legally revoke a Virginia health care directive and living will verbally or through physical cancellation, it’s better to put your wishes for care in writing. This gives your doctors and loved ones a record that they can later reference.
With FindLaw, you can create a health care directive and living will that’s tailored to Virginia law and revokes your prior ones in under an hour from any location that’s convenient to you.
When you revoke your health care directive and living will or create a new one, you should inform your health care agent, family members, and doctors immediately. If you stored your advance directives with Virginia’s advance health directive registry, you need to sign and notarize your revocation and submit it to the Virginia Department of Health.
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