It’s safe to say that when it comes to your own health care, no one knows your medical history, your support system, what works for you, and what doesn’t work for you better than you do.  

But suppose — because of an injury or illness — that you are no long able to make your own health care decisions.  If you have an Advance Directive (AD), then your “voice” can still be heard.

What is an AD?

An AD is a useful, legal way to say what quality of life you want to have, especially in a medical emergency or if you get very sick.  It is a legal tool that is a type of “advance care planning” that you can use to plan ahead for and document your own future health care.  An AD helps your loved ones and health care providers by giving them details about what you would want and what you would not want.  That way, they can make decisions as close as possible to how you would make them, if you could. 

Yes, ADs focus on end-of-life care, but ADs take the idea of planning ahead and apply it to all areas of health care (as shown in the image).  

What Happens Without an AD?

If you don’t have an AD, there are still ways for treatment to happen.  For example, Virginia law gives a list of people that doctors can contact to make decisions for you.  But, the list is a “one-size-fits all” list.

What Do I Need for My AD to be Legal?

Virginia does not require much to make your AD a legal document.

The three ways you can control your future health care with an AD:

All you need to do is:
Sign and date it yourself,
Have two adults witness you sign it, and
Have those two adults sign it to say that they witnessed you sign it.

You do not need:
To use a certain form,
Have an attorney write it, or get your AD notarized.

Are Copies of my AD Legal?

Yes.  Make copies of your AD and give them to your agent, health care providers, and trusted loved ones.

To Learn More

Virginia residents, please visit

Maryland residents, please visit

All other residents, please visit

If you are interested in discussing life, disability and/or life Insurance and your available options, please contact Fahmy & Associates today at 703-760-4630.

— Ken Fahmy