What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a legal document that lets you plan for your medical care when you can’t make decisions for yourself. Although it is a legal document, you do not have to go to a lawyer to get one!

An advance directive lets you:

·        pick someone to make health care decisions for you (your “agent”)

·        write down what kind of medical care you want and don’t want

·        decide the kind of treatments you want for end of life care

·        list who you would want to be your guardian, if you need one

·        say how you would want your family to be involved in your care in the future

·        give burial or cremation instructions

·        decide to be an organ donor

Everyone 18 years of age and older should have an advance directive. An advance directive is not just for seniors or people at the end of life. An advance directive can help you any time you can’t make medical decisions for yourself.

Virginia requires the signature of two witnesses to confirm the validity of the advance directive, but it does not need to be notarized. 

Why have an Advance Directive?

Making an advance directive gives you and your family members peace of mind. Often, when a family member becomes incapacitated or terminally ill, other family members have the heavy burden of deciding on appropriate end-of-life care. 

Advance directives are a blessing to loved ones because they do not have to make hard choices in a crisis situation because they know your wishes. Advance directives let family members and health care providers know exactly what types of medical procedures you want administered or withheld, taking the responsibility and burden out of the hands of others. 

Want to learn more?

National Healthcare Decisions Day 2022 – Videos     

Dr. Timothy Short, Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Education Institute at Hospice of the Piedmont and CVADC member discusses the importance of advance directives for oneself and family members. Watch the video below to learn more!

Lynn Childress, Special Projects Coordinator for JABA which includes coordinating the work of the CVADC, gave a presentation to At Home with JABA. Lynn spoke about the differences between wills and advance directives, the work of the CVADC, and the importance of having conversations about advance directives. Check out this informative video!

Jeanne McCusker, host of WINA’s “A Graceful Life” radio program spoke with Chaplain Hank Dunn, author of “Hard Choices for Loving People.” The CVADC has made Dunn’s book available at all JMRL branches. Listen to this great interview and then check out his book for important information on end-of-life issues. LISTEN

Jeanne McCusker, host of WINA’s “A Graceful Life” radio program spoke with Dr. Tim Short of Hospice of the Piedmont and retired social worker Marianne Capone about the importance of starting the conversation with loved ones about healthcare decisions before a crisis. LISTEN

National Healthcare Decisions Day 2021 – Videos     

Check out Laura Pilati on WINA promoting our 2021 workshops. LISTEN

Check out Tammy James, a chaplain at Sentara Martha Jefferson hospital on NBC 29 discussing advance care planning. WATCH

Check out A Graceful Life podcast for a 2-part series on advance directives:

Part 1: Dr. Sam Caughron shares how he approaches the subject of advance care planning with patients and why it is so important. LISTEN

Part 2: Marianne Capone, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, discusses the importance of having an advance directive. LISTEN

Get Started on Your Advance Directive 

1 – Print and fill out this Advance Directive form.

2 – Unsure about what choices to make on the AD form? See Prepare For Your Care Guide, What Happens When We Can’t Make Medical Decisions for Ourselves, and the book, Hard Choices for Loving People, on our Resource Page or make a virtual advance care planning appointment with a certified facilitator from Honoring Choices Virginia https://honoringchoices-va.org/virtual-acp-clinic-appointments.

3 – It is important to make copies of your advance directive and give them to your primary care physician, your local hospital, your attorney, and family and loved ones. You can also upload your advance directive to the Commonwealth of Virginia Advance Health Care Directive Registry.

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