March Newsletter

Assuring an Effective Advance Medical Directive

At Edward Zetlin Law, we sometimes have concerns that despite our good drafting and our client’s best intentions, the Medical Powers of Attorney and Advance Medical Directives that we finalize will not be utilized as our client’s intend.

Before we elaborate, first, a review of what a Medical Power of Attorney and an Advance Medical Directive are:

A Medical Power of Attorney is a document in which a signor appoints an Agent to make medical decisions and interact with medical personnel for the signor once the signor can no longer do so.

In an Advanced Medical Directive a signor states how medical decisions are to be made once the signor is incapable of acting on his/her own or expressing these wishes to others. Specifically, an Advance Medical Directive addresses:

  • Whether or not artificial means can be used, and under what circumstances it should not be used, to prolong life

Together these documents can be powerful, effective and efficient. Yet, very often they are not utilized as the signor wishes.

Some pointers to help assure your Advance Medical Directive is carried out:

  • Make sure your Agent under Medical Power of Attorney understands your wishes and is ready to carry out the instructions in your Advance Medical Directive.

  • Make sure family members are aware that you have executed both documents and are aware that these are your wishes and must be carried out.

  • If there is some specific end-of-life technology you are not comfortable with, make sure that it is addressed specifically in your Advance Medical Directive.

  • Make sure these documents are accessible to those who need them. Give them to family members and your physician. Hospitals now require copies of these documents if you are ever hospitalized. You may want to consider filing your Advance Medical Directive with the Virginia Department of Health.

An Advance Medical Directive is a memorialization of a conversation that you must have with anyone significant in your life and particularly with those who will carry out your wishes. They must understand what your want and why you want it. These conversations about your end of life decisions are difficult but must be done. It is the most effective means to assure your wishes are carried out.

Contact us at (703)379-0442; ed@zetlinlaw.com



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