What is a Virginia Living Will?
A Virginia living will is a written legal document that indicates your desire to withhold or withdraw certain medical care based on your health circumstances.
A Virginia living will typically contains the following language:
“I _______________ have the primary right under Virginia law to make my own decisions concerning treatment that might unduly prolong the dying process. By this declaration, I express to my physician, family, and friends my intent. If I should have a terminal condition, I desire that my dying not be prolonged by administrative of death-prolonging procedures. If my condition is terminal and I am unable to participate in decisions regarding my medical treatment, I direct my attending physician to withhold or withdraw medical procedures that merely prolong the dying process and are not necessary to my comfort or to alleviate pain. It is not my intent to authorize affirmative deliberate acts or omissions to shorten my life, and rather it is only my intent to permit the natural process of dying.”
How is a Virginia living will made?
Anyone who is competent and 18 years of age in Virginia can make a living. To execute this document, they must sign and date a statement like that above. Furthermore, they can do so in either typed or handwritten form before two witnesses. The witnesses must be at least 18 years of age. Furthermore, in order to avoid legal issues, you should not be related to the person signing the declaration. You can also not be beneficiary of his or her estate, or financially responsible for his or her medical care. It is important to prepare a Virginia living will before any hospitalization or impending surgery. However, you should avoid deciding the terms of your will in a short period of time.
What are the limitations of a Virginia living will?
Virginia law provides significant limitations to the scope of a Virginia living will. Terms such as “death-prolonging procedure” and “terminal condition” specify the circumstances to which a living will apply. Both of these terms are related to conditions where death will occur within a short period of time if additional treatment is not provided. A Virginia living will is intended only to avoid treatment when death is imminent and treatment ineffectively avoids or significantly delays death. Also, Virginia statutes prohibits a living will from withholding or withdrawing artificially supplied nutrition and hydration. This includes sustenance supplied through a feeding tube or intravenously.
What are the alternatives to a Virginia living will?
In Virginia, if you would like to provide health care instructions beyond the scope of a living will you may instead create a Virginia health care advance directive. A Virginia advance directive allows you to provide instruction regarding the degree of medical care you would like to receive in particular circumstances when you are unable to refuse treatment yourself. While a competent patient may refuse treatment for himself, an incompetent person may rely on a Virginia advance directive in order to ensure that his wishes are carried out. Recently, Virginia courts have provided people the opportunity to exceed the limitations of living will statutes in Virginia advance directives.
Advance directives may include instructions to withhold or withdraw artificially supplied nutrition and hydration or other treatment and machinery, which may maintain a patient in a persistent vegetative state. Additionally, Virginia advance directives do not need to be composed in any standard form and may include procedures that may or may not be used, as well as the effective time frames. However, like living wills, you must sign, date, and have a witness for advance directives.
Where should I store my Virginia living will?
It is essential to ensure that your Virginia living will is easily accessible as you might need it quickly. The same idea applies to Virginia advance directives. Some people ensure that they continuously have a copy of your living will or advance directive. However, you should additionally provide your physician with a copy of your living will or advance directive. This notifies the physician of your desires in the case of an emergency. Additionally, you are able to provide you with the opportunity to discuss your medical options. You should also provide a copy to your attorney-in-fact in the case of your incapacity. Additionally, if you are in the hospital it is important to include a copy in your medical records. It is wise to sign multiple copies of your living will or advance directive.
How do I Revoke a Virginia living will?
You can easily revoke or cancel a Virginia living will. Under Virginia law, either an oral or written statement may revoke your wishes. It is best to gather all copies of your Virginia living will and destroy them to prevent confusion. Many state statutes require that a note of revocation of the living will be placed in your medical records.
Contact our Virginia Attorneys for More Information
For more information on Virginia living wills, schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also check out our blog for more information on Virginia estate planning.