What You Should Know About Advance Medical Directives in Virginia
No one wants to get to the point where they become incapacitated and therefore incapable of making their decisions about their healthcare. To avoid that situation, it’s important that you have the proper legal documents in place so that your wishes will be carried out. By drafting these advance medical directives, you also spare your loved ones from the heartbreak of having to guess what you would have wanted done.
There are two primary documents you’ll want to establish. The first is a durable power of attorney for healthcare, which names a person you trust, known as your agent, to direct matters related to your healthcare during your incapacitation. The second is a living will, which outlines the medical treatments you do or do not want in certain situations.
Durable power of attorney for healthcare
When selecting an agent, most people choose a spouse, partner, close friend or other relative to fill the role. Under Virginia law, anyone you choose to be an agent should be at least 18 years old.
You want to select someone you know to be organized, trustworthy and dependable. This should be an individual who will stand up for your wishes even if you have other friends or family who disagree with them. Thus, your agent must remain calm under pressure.
If you choose someone who does not live in Virginia, he or she should be able to travel to you if needed.
Your living will gives you the opportunity to leave behind instruction for your healthcare agent and your healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses and hospital support staff. If, for example, you do not want lifesaving measures to be employed in certain situations, your living will is the place to leave that information.
Ultimately, advance medical directives enable you to maintain control over your own healthcare, even in situations in which you are not conscious or otherwise capable of making those decisions in real time. To that end, it’s important to establish these documents long before you ever need them.