Roanoke Healthcare Power of Attorney Lawyer

Estate planning includes more than identifying your beneficiaries.  It also includes documents that indicate what will happen should you become mentally or physically incapable of making sound decisions for your physical, emotional, and financial health.

Fortunately, when you have a medical power of attorney (POA) as part of your estate plan, you can ensure the medical decisions you would have made are written and can be carried out as you intended, should it become necessary. With help from a dedicated Roanoke estate planning attorney from Select Law Partners PLLC, you can draft your healthcare power of attorney forms and finalize your estate plans. Contact our office to request a confidential consultation today and take steps to protect yourself.

roanoke healthcare power of attorney

How do advance medical directives work in Virginia?

An advance directive is a voluntarily written and witnessed document or oral statement explaining your medical care wishes if a judge or two doctors determine you cannot make such decisions. In Virginia, two types of advance directives define your medical care wishes if you cannot express them yourself. These advance directives are a health care power of attorney and a living will.

A health care power of attorney, the broader of the two, is when you appoint another individual to act as your agent in making your health care decisions should you be incapable of doing so. A living will describes the kind of life-sustaining treatment you want or do not want if you are unable to express your wishes due to a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state.

What are the requirements for Virginia healthcare POAs?

To prepare a power of attorney for health care in Roanoke, you must appoint an adult as your agent. While it is not required that they live in Virginia, they must be accessible in the event something happens to you. They should be able to make difficult decisions about your care while maintaining your wishes and best interests.

Your healthcare POA requires specific selections, including your designation of an agent. While not mandatory, choosing one or more alternate agents in case your primary designation is unavailable is also a good idea. Your healthcare POA should also include an explanation of your agent’s powers, including the following common powers:

  • To consent or refuse healthcare procedures, treatment, medication, and resuscitation
  • To make decisions about temporary and permanent medical treatment that may prolong your life
  • To employ or terminate any of your medical providers
  • To have you admitted or discharged from any medical or assisted living facility
  • To determine or limit your visitors in the hospital
  • To authorize or deny participation in health care studies that could therapeutically benefit you
  • To communicate with your health insurers about your treatment and care
  • To execute consent forms for the treatment they choose for you

You need to sign your health care POA and have it witnessed by two other people.

Why would someone need a health care POA even if they are currently healthy?

Every person should have a health care POA for unplanned scenarios, regardless of their current health. You should proactively document the medical care decisions you desire in case you suddenly become ill, injured, incapacitated, or cannot otherwise make those choices for yourself. Having a Roanoke healthcare power of attorney lawyer draft your medical POA is essential because if you do not designate an agent in advance, the law will assign someone to make critical decisions about your health care.

Typically, your doctor will turn to your next of kin to make decisions involving your health care. However, in some instances, they may assign a stranger.

Further, a domestic partner is not legally recognized as next of kin; therefore, they will not have any legal authority to act on your behalf in case of a medical emergency. Pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), your medical providers are not authorized to speak with anyone regarding your medical care unless they have a HIPAA waiver from you or a health care POA.

Without a health care POA, a doctor is not required to speak with your family or honor your medical wishes. Additionally, there is a chance that if your preferences are not documented in a POA, a family member could forget or misinterpret your desires. The agent you choose only makes decisions for you if a judge or medical professional determines you to be unable to make medical-related decisions for yourself, and you can modify or cancel your health care POA at any time.

Do minor children need a medical power of attorney?

Generally, a health care POA is not needed for a minor if their parent or legal guardian is available to make medical decisions on their behalf. However, if the child’s parents are absent and unable to provide permission to treat, a medical POA can be granted to another trusted person. Obtaining a health care POA for a minor can help prevent delays in emergency treatment.

Healthcare powers of attorney should also be considered for children who are nearing adulthood. Once a child turns 18, they are a legal adult, meaning they are responsible for making their own decisions regarding their medical care. By executing a health care power of attorney, it ensures that their parents (or other agent they nominate) are able to assist with making medical decisions should they fall under an incapacity or illness.

How does a living will work in Virginia?

A living will is a legally binding, written advance medical directive that gives specific healthcare and end-of-life instructions regarding withholding or withdrawing artificial procedures that may be used to prolong your life, such as those pertaining to artificial respiration, nutrition, and hydration.

roanoke healthcare poa lawyer

Who are living wills designed for?

A living will is considered when you are terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state, like a prolonged coma. A terminal condition is a disease, illness, or injury that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, you cannot recover from, and a persistent vegetative state is a condition caused by an injury, illness, or disease in which you have suffered a loss of consciousness and, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, cannot recover from.

Living wills should be made in writing when possible. Then, they must be signed by two witnesses not related to you by blood or marriage. In some instances, such as if your attending physician diagnoses you as being terminally ill, you can make an oral living will.

If you have a health care power of attorney, the appointed agent can make these end-of-life decisions for you. However, without a living will, your family members may disagree about what treatments you should receive and when artificial care should be withdrawn. At Select Law Partners PLLC, we recommend having a medical POA and a living will to cover all possible scenarios and situations.

How long do health care powers of attorney and living wills last in Roanoke?

All powers of attorney, including health care POAs, are durable in Virginia. This means that they last until you die. In addition to death, your POA will end if the following scenarios occur:

  • You revoke it, which you can do at any point you are mentally competent
  • You have no available agent due to their death, resignation, or incapacitation
  • A court invalidates it for a reason such as being mentally incompetent at the time you executed it
  • You take legal action against your agent, including filing for divorce

A living will stays in effect until you revoke it. This is why you must consult with a skilled estate planning lawyer in Roanoke to help you draft your advance directive documents. We can help ensure your wishes are clear and well documented.

What should you do with your advance directive documents?

Once your Roanoke wills and trusts lawyer completes your health care POA and living will, it is important that you store your advance directive documents in a secure location that can be accessed when necessary. You should give copies to your medical providers and designated agents. In addition, consider storing your advance directives with the Advance Health Care Directive Registry.

The Virginia Advance Health Care Directives Registry is a statewide program. It offers a free and secure place to store advance directive documents, including your health care POA, living will, durable do not resuscitate, and financial power of attorney. Medical providers, emergency responders, and any other family members or individuals you grant access to can only access these sensitive documents.

Where can you get help creating your advance directive documents?

Your estate plan should include proactive measures detailing your wishes in the unfortunate event that you become terminally ill or incapacitated. Our Roanoke estate planning attorneys at Select Law Partners PLLC can help you understand your rights and all potential decisions you should consider for your future medical care.

Ensure your future healthcare desires are documented and carried out through a proper medical POA and living will by calling us at (855) 541-4867 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced wills and trusts lawyers.