Saving your family from the heartbreak of deciding to pull the plug

“What is an Advance Medical Directive”

An Advance Medical Directive allows you to state your wishes in writing about medical treatment and care. An Advance Medical Directive is aimed at preventing the legal fight that ensnared Terry Schiavo’s family as a result of her husband’s decision to remove her feeding tube.

There are two types of advance directives: a written directive and the appointment of a healthcare agent. The two types are explained in greater detail below. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, having a written directive and a healthcare agent affords you the greatest protection, as one cannot anticipate all possible medical events.

Written Directive – often referred to as a “living will”, the written directive lists what kinds of healthcare you want or don’t want if you are incapacitated and unable to express your own wishes. A written directive may address any type of care (i.e. psychiatric treatment), not just end of life or pull the plug issues.

Healthcare Agent -, you can appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. The appointment of an agent is sometimes referred to as a “Power of Attorney for Healthcare.” You may limit the authority of the agent in the directive. Ensure that you chose someone who is accessible and capable of making potentially difficult decisions about your care.

Advance Directives are not just for the elderly. Even if you are young and healthy, you should have an advance directive. Terry Schiavo was in her mid-twenties when she went into cardiac arrest and was left comatose.

The Virginia State Bar provides free advance directive forms on its website. Visit to download your free form. An advance directive does not be notarized.

Advance Medical Directives, along with wills and powers of attorney, are a necessary part of any estate plan. If you need help If you need help with estate planning in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George, or Sussex. Give us a call at (804)668-5327 or email us at to schedule a consultation.