A Virginia Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA) is a document that lets you choose someone to be in charge of critical healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated. The person you appoint, called your agent, can only start making decisions on your behalf if you can’t communicate your wishes.
In Virginia, a Medical Power of Attorney is often referred to as an Advance Directive or Health Care Power of Attorney.
Laws: Title 54.1, Chapter 29, Article 8 of the Code of Virginia (VA Code §54.1-2981 to 54.1-2993.1) governs medical powers of attorney in Virginia.
Consider creating the following documents alongside your Medical Power of Attorney:
- Living Will: it details the medical treatments you do and don’t want to receive in case you lose the ability to communicate. This document can be combined with Medical Power of Attorney on the same form.
- (Financial) Power of Attorney: a Power of Attorney for financial matters lets you choose an agent to manage your finances. You can decide whether your agent has access to your finances all the time or in specific situations, like if you’re out of the country or become incapacitated.
How to Fill in a Medical Power of Attorney in Virginia
Follow the steps below to complete your MPOA form according to the requirements outlined in VA Code §54.1-2982 to §54.1-2986.2.
Download a Free Medical Power of Attorney
Download an unfilled MPOA template to serve as a guide for creating your form.
Step 1: Choose an agent
If you become incapacitated, your agent is the person you designate to manage your medical affairs.
Who should you choose as an agent?
In Virginia, any adult can serve as your agent, but it’s best to choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes and make critical medical decisions based on your values and beliefs.
Who can’t be your agent?
In Virginia, the only restriction is that someone under the age of 18 can’t serve as your agent.
Related law: VA Code §54.1-2982
Can you have more than one agent?
You can’t have more than one agent simultaneously, but you can designate a successor agent who will take over if your primary agent is unavailable or unwilling to serve.
Relevant law: VA Code § 54.1-2984
Step 2: Specify what healthcare decisions your agent can make
Decide which choices you’re comfortable with your agent making on your behalf when you can’t communicate.
Can you limit your agent’s powers?
Yes, you can restrict the types of decisions your agent can make for you during incapacitation by including your wishes and/or your instructions for specific treatments in the MPOA document.
If you don’t limit your agent’s powers, they’ll have broad authority over your health care decisions. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Granting the release of medical records
- Deciding who can visit you in the hospital
- Choosing your medical treatments
- Approving your participation in a healthcare study
What is your agent legally unable to do?
your agent can’t authorize any of the following on your behalf:
- Non-therapeutic sterilization
Your agent is also legally bound to follow your instructions and act in your best interest when making decisions.
Relevant law: VA Code § 54.1-2983.3
When can your agent start making decisions for you?
Before your agent can make medical decisions for you, your doctor must confirm in writing that you’re incapable of making those decisions yourself. Depending on the situation, a capacity reviewer may have to certify your doctor’s findings.
If the treatment continues for an extended period, your doctor is required to recertify your incapacitated state at least every 180 days. In addition, a single doctor can determine at any time that you’ve regained the capacity to make your own medical decisions by putting their findings in writing.
Relevant law: VA Code § 54.1-2983.2
Step 3: Sign the form
Sign your MPOA document according to the following Virginia requirements:
Does a Medical Power of Attorney need to be notarized in Virginia?
No, your VA Medical Power of Attorney doesn’t need to be notarized, but you must sign the form in the presence of two witnesses to be legally binding.
Relevant law: VA Code § 54.1-2983
Who can’t be a witness?
In Virginia, your witnesses can’t be under the age of 18. Choose witnesses who know you well if they need to testify that you weren’t under any undue influence at the time of signing.
Relevant law: VA Code § 54.1-2982
How long is your Medical Power of Attorney effective in Virginia?
If you only want your Medical Power of Attorney to be effective for a specific situation (like if you’re undergoing surgery), you can include an end date. Otherwise, your MPOA will be effective indefinitely until it’s revoked.
How to Revoke a Virginia Medical Power of Attorney
If you change your mind, you can revoke your Medical POA at any time with one of the following methods:
- Sign and date a Revocation of Power of Attorney document declaring your intention to revoke
- Verbally express your decision to revoke
- Destroy the original document
Whichever method you choose, make sure you communicate the revocation to your agent and healthcare professionals.
Relevant law: VA Code § 54.1-2985