Virginia Advance Directives
You can pick someone to make decisions for you
One thing you can do to plan for a time when you cannot make health care decisions is to pick someone to make the decisions for you. This person is called an agent. An agent has legal authority to make the decisions for you during the time that you cannot.
Who should I pick as an agent?
This is completely your decision. There are some important qualities to look for in an agent, like:
Can I have more than one agent?
You can pick one or more back-up agents. Having a back-up agent will help if your first-pick agent is not available or quits.
Some people think about picking co-agents—two people to act at the same time with equal authority. But, co-agents can run into problems if they disagree.
What does my agent have to do?
The 1st power lets your agent say “yes,” “no,” or “stop” to treatments.
The 2nd power lets your agent look over your health care records. It also lets your agent share your records with other doctors to help with your care.
The 3rd power lets your agent hire and fire health care providers.
The 4th power lets your agent say “yes” or “no” to where your health care takes place.
The 5th power is about treatment in a mental health hospital. It lets your agent say “yes” or “no” when doctors suggest that you need to go to a mental health hospital.
The 6th power protects you from firing your agent while you are not able to make decisions.
7 & 8
The 7th and 8th powers are about research. They let your agent say “yes” or “no” when there is a research study that wants to include you.
The 9th power lets your agent control who visits you based on your instructions.
|The last power lets your agent do the things needed to make your decisions happen, like sign forms.|
What does it mean to give powers to your health care agent?
You have the legal power to make decisions about your health care. You can make decisions about whether you want treatment or want to stop treatment. You can look at your medical records. You can sign forms at the doctor’s office. These are just a few examples of the many powers you have. But when you are unable to make informed decisions about your health care, you cannot use your powers very well or at all. Instead, your agent will need to have the powers so that he or she can take your place during that time. The powers on the advance directive form are the main ones that your agent might need.
If you do not select an agent, the law will automatically appoint your spouse or closest blood relative to make health care decisions for you when you cannot. If this happens, the law grants all the powers below except visitation rights.
An agent needs to be at least 18 years old
An agent should know you well, especially your health care preferences and values
An agent should be someone that you trust to be your advocate
An agent should be willing to be your agent
An agent should be someone that is pretty easy to reach in an emergency
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This website is not intended to provide legal advice. It is merely a guide, and reflects one view of Advance Directives in Virginia. It can be beneficial to consult with an attorney regarding your Advance Directive. However, the intention of Virginia’s law on Advance Directives is to enable and encourage all capable adults to fill out an Advance Directive on their own.
This website is designed and administered by Mental Health America of Virginia (MHAV) and is funded through a grant by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.