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Living Wills
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Living Wills Attorneys Serving Norfolk

Living wills are an important aspect of estate planning, but did you know many people in the United States either delay or inadvertently overlook creating this important document?According to a 2020 Gallup poll, only about 45 percent of adult Americans say they have a living will. That means that less than half of American adults are prepared for the possibility of being incapacitated and unable to communicate with their loved ones and medical team about their care. While no one expects to become suddenly incapacitated, it is much better to be prepared for the worst before it is too late to make your own medical decisions.Everyone who is 18 years of age or older should have a living will. Now is the time to learn what is involved in a living will, how it can protect you, and how a knowledgeable Norfolk, Virginia estate planning attorney can help you through the process.

The experienced estate administration lawyers at Montagna Law can help. Call our Norfolk law firm at 757-622-8100 to schedule a consultation for legal advice or to begin constructing this essential legal document.


No matter what life throws at you, we can help you solve your legal problems.

Call (877) 622-8100 or complete the online contact form to request a free consultation.


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      What is a Living Will?

      A living will, also known as an advanced medical directive in Norfolk and the rest of Virginia, permits individuals to lay out their medical decisions in advance. This empowers the individual if they become incapacitated and cannot make or communicate their choices and preferences. A living will also permits a person’s loved ones and medical teams to access their explicit wishes for medical procedures and read how to carry them out.

      Many believe an advanced medical directive focuses on whether or not hospital staff should disconnect a person from life support if there is no hope of recovery. This is only part of what a living will can do. A living will also encompasses other healthcare conditions, including pain management, hiring and firing doctors, choosing medical facilities for treatment, and making anatomical gifts. It also dictates the medical treatments a person prefers to receive based on their moral, religious, or other beliefs.

      It is essential to understand the living will only becomes active when you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes about treatment. The document is not enforceable at any other time. Incapacitated means you are either in terminal condition or in a persistent vegetative state. It is important to know that temporary incapacitation does not activate the living will.

      Another common misconception is that a living will is the same as a last will and testament. A regular will is enforced once a person passes away, whereas a living will goes into effect during incapacitation. However, there is one significant similarity. Much like a last will and testament, an advanced medical directive is a document you can replace or revoke at any time if you change your mind about its contents. You always reserve the right to revise your living will.

      How is a Living Will Different From a Medical Power of Attorney?

      People sometimes believe living wills and medical power of attorney to be interchangeable terms, but the two have key differences.

      A medical power of attorney is responsible for making medical decisions about another person when they cannot do so for themselves. Unlike a living will, this type of power of attorney can be for temporary incapacitation. A living will clearly outlines what others should do in the event of incapacitation. In contrast, a medical power of attorney entrusts a named person to make decisions that you did not or cannot decide in advance. This document can be as limited or broad as you choose.

      When choosing a medical power of attorney, you should choose someone over 18 (Virginia does not permit minors to make such important decisions) and who you hold in high trust. Remember, this individual will choose medical courses of action they think are in your best interest, so weigh this decision carefully. You want to be confident that the chosen person will make choices that align with your wishes for your care.

      The Importance of Living Wills

      Living wills make your wishes clear so that you still have a say in your medical care, even if you are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, because you can spell out anything you want in different scenarios. Once complete and active, this document must be followed per your directives.

      A living will can save your family members and other loved ones the stress of making medical choices in your stead, especially the difficult ones they may not want to make in the event of a sudden personal injury or other medical condition. It is an emotional time and may be quite difficult for them.

      This document also prevents stressful and expensive guardianship court proceedings by naming the person you trust to follow your wishes and make any additional medical decisions on your behalf.

      What You Need to Make a Living Will in Norfolk

      A living will can only be made for someone 18 or older and mentally competent. The Commonwealth of Virginia requires you to sign the document in the presence of two witnesses who are not your spouse or blood relatives. There is an exception for an oral living will, but it is only acceptable for terminally ill patients and must be delivered to their physician in front of two witnesses.

      Does a Living Will Need to be Notarized in Norfolk?

      notary stamping documents

      No, you are not required to have a living will notarized in Norfolk, Virginia. However, having your living will notarized can make it more difficult for anyone to challenge it later. It is an extra safeguard to assure the people charged with your decisions follow it to the letter, and with two confirmed witnesses, there is no question of the validity of your living will.

      What is Included in a Living Will in Norfolk?

      When you create a living will, standard inclusions are provisions for various medical decisions, including:

      • Resuscitation (CPR) and do-not-resuscitate orders (DNRs)
      • Pain management and palliative care
      • Nutrition, hydration, and tube feeding
      • Mechanical ventilation
      • Life-prolonging procedures
      • Antibiotics and antiviral medications
      • Organ and tissue donations

      For each of these decisions, you can provide full permission, partial permission (state your stipulations), or no permission. You can include a length of time for specific treatments or procedures and how aggressive you want providers to be.

      Benefits of Hiring a Norfolk Living Will Attorney

      An estate planning lawyer who is well-versed in Virginia law knows how to draft a living will and what is vital to include. By working with a living wills lawyer ahead of time to write this essential legal document, you also avoid any questions about your mental health or the validity of your living will. When you have a Norfolk attorney draft your living will in advance, you demonstrate you were healthy, of sound mind, and of your own volition when you created your directive.

      Many people often do not realize how expansive a living will can be, so at Montagna Law, we often provide clients with a checklist to evaluate their options to decide what they want to include or do not wish to include. Our law firm also recommends people take their time to carefully consider all of their various options and not jump to any quick decisions.

      The details contained in living wills are important, and you want to construct them precisely as necessary so your document thoroughly and accurately reflects all of your wishes. Working with a trustworthy and knowledgeable Norfolk attorney helps you to avoid errors in your living will and state exactly what you want it to say.

      Take Control of Your Future Medical Decisions

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      Many people feel strongly about how their medical decisions should be made if they cannot do so for themselves. Medical decisions often reflect an individual’s personal, religious, or ethical beliefs, which should always be respected.

      At Montagna Law, we can help you to take control of your future medical decisions so you can rest comfortably knowing everything is in place, and your family members will suffer no burdens making tough decisions when you cannot do so yourself. Our Norfolk living wills attorneys will sit down with you and cover all aspects of your advanced medical directive so you can effectively make informed choices.

      Need help with other legal issues, including family law, living trusts, probate, real estate, choosing beneficiaries, making nursing home decisions, and other estate planning topics? Montagna Law is here to support you and make sure your estate is in order. Our estate planning attorneys have proudly served Norfolk and the rest of the Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Newport News, for over 50 years.

      To speak with a member of our law firm, call us today. Our phone number is 757-622-8100. If it is more convenient, we invite you to fill out our online contact form to schedule your estate planning meeting.

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      Montagna Law
      425 Monticello Avenue Suite B
      Norfolk, Virginia 23510-2408
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