A Virginia Advance Directive is a crucial form that allows of-age individuals to have legal control over their medical treatment in the event when they are unable to speak for themselves. When a patient does not have their wishes about the kinds of medical treatment they do or do not want to receive specified, these decisions can be placed in the hands of family members, doctors, or even judges, who may know very little about what the patient prefers.
Virginia has two forms released by state authorities for this purpose:
- A General Advance Directive for Health Care; and
- An Advance Directive Form for with provisions regarding mental health conditions.
The documents are regulated by § 54.1-2981 through § 54.1-2993 of the Virginia Health Care Decisions Act and must be witnessed by two (2) people. Advance Directives provide an efficient and flexible format for planning out future health care and gives patients the option of electing a trusted individual or health professional to oversee their care.
There is a difference between a Virginia Advance Directive and a Virginia Living Will. The former are oral or written instructions about future medical care in case the individual becomes too ill to communicate. The latter is a specific type of directive that takes effect only when a patient is terminally ill.
What Is a Virginia Advance Directive?
Advance Directives are legally binding documents that outline an individual’s wishes regarding life support, resuscitation and other interventions for both their health care team and family members. The paperwork for all Advance Directives for Health Care includes two parts in total – a Living Will and a Medical Power of Attorney.
- A Living Will is a legal document that intends to ensure and specify an individual's end-of-life wishes regarding health care and medical treatment in the event of their permanent incapacity.
- A Medical Power of Attorney - otherwise called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care - is a form that elects an agent to make medical decisions on the behalf of the individual signing the document.
How to Write an Advance Directive in Virginia?
- Learn the necessary components of the document. Designate a health care proxy - or agent - using a health care power of attorney.
- Get the required paperwork and begin filling out your form.
- Determine your wishes on CPR, breathing tubes, feeding tubes, surgeries, kidney dialysis, and organ donation.
- Discuss your wishes with your partner, family, friends and health care providers to make sure your plans are known to them ahead of time.
- Hand copies of the certified and signed form to your health care proxy and doctors. Keep the original in an obvious easy-to-find place with your other paperwork and keep more copies handy.