From the Attorney at Northern Virginia Trusts & Estates
It’s always important to plan ahead, but this is especially true when it comes to end-of-life decisions. Most people know a will is essential, but it’s just as important that people have a medical directive done as well. At Northern Virginia Trusts and Estates, we’re happy to help people in Fairfax, VA, create a medical directive that will express their intentions. Call us today at 703-938-3510 and we can begin working on one for you.
The Purpose of a medical directive
Put simply, medical directives are a guarantee that medical professionals and loved ones alike will know a patient’s wishes regarding life prolonging procedures. If you end up in a coma, for example, you wouldn’t be able to communicate what you would want done in terms of keeping you on life support. A medical directive would inform everyone of your decision.
Many people confuse a living will (which is an advance medical directive) with a living trust. That document has to do with distributing your personal assets so as to avoid probate. Northern Virginia Trusts and Estates can certainly help you with this document as well.
Medical Directives in Fairfax, VA
The requirements for medical directives are different from state to state. In Virginia, they are guided by two different pieces of legislation. One is the Virginia Healthcare Decisions Act and the other is the Patient Self Determination Act. Our knowledge is essential in understanding how these laws affect your wishes.
In Virginia, certain conditions must be met before your medical directive can be invoked. First, you have to have a terminal condition, meaning death is imminent. Secondly, you must be In a persistent vegetative state. This is often referred to as a permanent coma. The main identifying characteristic is that a doctor has declared that there is nothing to be done to aid your recovery.
Understanding Life-Prolonging Procedures
Many people don’t understand the importance of a living will or medical directive which is why they need our help. Obviously, they’d like to live as long as possible. But “life-prolonging procedures” is literal and means nothing else. They are procedures that can be administered which are not expected to help you recover. Instead, they will simply keep you living, albeit in a vegetative state.
Generally they refer to providing the patient water and food through tubes and using machines that help him to breathe.
Unfortunately, these procedures do not cover treatments that might help you become more comfortable or ease any pain you’re feeling. We can stipulate in your medical directive, however, that these are treatments you would like.