Virginia Beach Health Care Directive Lawyer
Helping You Direct Your Healthcare Decisions When You Can’t Communicate Them
There may be a time in your life when you become incapacitated and unable to make your own medical decisions or communicate effectively with doctors. This could be the result of a motor vehicle accident or workplace accident, a serious illness, or an age-related mental disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The time to act is now, while you are healthy enough and able to put your desires in writing so that family members and medical professionals can understand and follow your directions. The way to do this is by creating advance health care directives, and The Law Office of Angela N. Manz can help. Contact our experienced Virginia Beach health care directive lawyers today.
What Are Advance Health Care Directives?
Advance health care directives in Virginia generally fall into two categories: 1) a Power of Attorney for Healthcare (Healthcare Proxy); and 2) a Living Will. Each type of directive has its own uses, and a comprehensive estate plan will likely include both types of directives to fully protect you in a period of incapacity.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare (Healthcare Proxy)
A Power of Attorney for Healthcare, or Healthcare Proxy, is a legally binding document that grants another individual the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. Key features of a Healthcare Proxy include:
- Designated Agent: You appoint a trusted individual to be your agent. This person will be responsible for making health care decisions according to your wishes, even if they’re not explicitly mentioned in any other document.
- Decision-Making Scope: While the specific decisions an agent can make may vary, common ones include agreeing to or refusing medical treatments, having access to your medical records, and having the authority to transfer you to another medical facility if needed.
- Activation: This document only comes into effect if you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. For example, if you’re in a coma or have severe dementia, the Healthcare Proxy would come into play.
A Living Will is a written, legal document that details your wishes regarding medical treatments should you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious and unable to communicate your preferences. Key features of a living will include:
- Treatment Preferences: This document explicitly states which life-sustaining treatments you want, or don’t want. Common treatments addressed include your preferences regarding resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, and more.
- End-of-Life Decisions: A Living Will focuses on scenarios where recovery is not expected. It provides clear instructions on the continuation, withholding, or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments.
- Complements the Healthcare Proxy: While a Healthcare Proxy designates an individual to make decisions for you, a Living Will clearly lays out your wishes. In circumstances where the Living Will doesn’t cover a specific situation, the agent from the Healthcare Proxy can make decisions.
Why Are Advance Health Care Directives Essential?
- Clarity in Difficult Times: These directives eliminate the guesswork for loved ones and healthcare professionals during critical moments. They ensure that your medical care aligns with your values and desires.
- Empowerment: Taking the time to establish these documents means you have a say in your health care, even if you can’t speak for yourself.
- Legal Recognition: These documents are recognized by healthcare professionals and courts as legally valid and binding, ensuring that your directives are upheld.
- Avoid Guardianship: Without advance directives in place, your loved ones would be forced to go through a costly, time-consuming and distressing process in court. In the end, a judge would decide who makes these sensitive decisions on your behalf, and it might not be the person you would choose if you had the chance.
Contact The Law Office of Angela N. Manz for Help With Advance Health Care Directives in Virginia Beach
Estate planning isn’t just about managing assets; it’s about ensuring that your wishes are honored in every aspect of your life, including your healthcare decisions. The Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Living Will are crucial tools in this endeavor. At The Law Office of Angela N. Manz in Virginia Beach, we’re here to guide you through the intricacies of these documents, ensuring you and your loved ones have peace of mind.
If you have already created these vital documents, make sure your family and family physician know you have done so and where you put them so they can be accessed if needed in a timely manner. Virginia has a free online advance directive registry at ConnectVirginia that allows Virginia residents to store these important documents securely.
If you haven’t yet created your advance health directives, call our office in Virginia Beach for guidance and assistance tailored to your desires.