A Vermont advance directive form lets you make your health care preferences known to medical personnel in the event you can’t express those preferences (like in a medical emergency where you’re unconscious).
In addition to functioning as written instructions, your advance directive also lets you assign an agent. This agent is tasked with making medical decisions in your best interests, so make sure your agent is someone you trust before having them sign your advance directive.
- Statute: Title 18, Chapter 231 (Advance Directives for Health Care and Disposition of Remains)
- Signing Requirements: Two witnesses at least 18 years of age. Your health care provider can be a witness (Vt. Stat. tit. 18 § 9703). Restrictions apply if you reside in a nursing home (Vt. Stat. tit. 33 § 7102). Your document will not be effective unless it’s explained to you by either an ombudsman, a clergy member, a licensed attorney, nursing home volunteers, a clinician who doesn’t work at your facility, a mental health patient representative, a probate division of the Superior Court designee, or an individual assigned by a hospital pursuant to Vt. Stat. tit. 18 § 9709(d).
- State Definition: A Vermont advance directive — also known as Clinician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (COLST) — is a combination of two estate planning documents, a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will. This document allows you to outline your health care and post-death preferences regarding the appointment of a health care agent, health care desires or treatment goals, identification of a preferred primary care clinician, anatomical gift donation, disposition of remains, funeral goods, and services (Vt. Stat. tit. 18 § 9701).
- Revocation: Although legally binding, your Vermont advance directive is not permanent. Regardless of your mental capacity, you can suspend or revoke all or part of your advance directive, including the designation of an agent (Vt. Stat. tit. 18 § 9704). Additionally, if you have mental capacity, you can amend, suspend, or revoke all or part of your advance directive by executing a new document.
- Effective Date: Your advance directive goes into effect when your clinician determines that you lack capacity and makes specific findings regarding the cause, nature, and projected duration that you will lack capacity (Vt. Stat. tit. 18 § 9706). Additionally, your clinician must make reasonable efforts to inform both you and your agent of their conclusion that you lack capacity.
How to Select Your Agent(s)
Under Vt. Stat. tit. 18 § 9702, you have the authority to appoint one or more agents who will step in to manage your healthcare if the circumstance arises that you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Once you’ve selected your agent(s), confirm their willingness and notify them. Providing them with a copy of your advance directive is equally important.
Choosing More than One Agent
In addition to your primary agent(s), you’re permitted to designate one or more alternate agents. Your alternate agent will assume authority over your health care in the event your primary agent(s) are unwilling to or incapable of carrying out their role.
Who You Should Not Name as Your Agent
As stated in 18 V.S.A. § 9702-18(c), your health care provider is unable to act as your agent unless they’re related to you by blood, marriage, civil union, or adoption.
Furthermore, your agent may not be an owner, operator, employee, agent, or contractor of a residential care facility, a health care facility, or a correctional facility where you’re a resident at the time you execute the document.
Decisions Your Agent(s) Can Make
According to Vt. Stat. tit. 18 § 9711(a), your agent shall have the authority to make any health care decisions on your behalf – specifically, ones you could have made if you had the capacity. Note that you are also able to provide instructions on your advance directive that limit your agent’s decision-making power, and your agent must follow any instructions you’ve provided in your directive.
Furthermore, your agent is obliged to consider their knowledge of your personal, religious, and moral beliefs. If unable to determine what you would have wanted in a particular circumstance, your agent shall make a decision through an assessment of your best interests.
If no instructions are provided, your agent has the authority to:
- Admit you to or discharge you from a medical facility or nursing home.
- Access information regarding your mental and physical health, including your medical and hospital records.
- Consent to the disclosure of your health care information.
- Approve the use of medication, procedures, or therapeutic measures.
- Participate in any meetings, discussions, or conferences concerning your health care decisions.
- File a complaint on your behalf regarding a health care provider, health care facility, or residential care facility.
In addition to medical decisions, your Vermont advance directive allows you to detail your post-death wishes. This portion of the document highlights your preferences regarding organ donation, disposition of your remains, as well as funeral goods and services to be provided. If no directions are supplied, your agent will have the authority to make these decisions on your behalf.
According to 18 V.S.A. § 9711(f), your agent does not have the authority to consent to voluntary sterilization.
Use the template below to create your customized Vermont advance directive.