Receiving quality health care during one’s senior years is a crucial part of aging for everyone. There are several very important documents that can help seniors ensure that they get the care they need. These documents include living wills, advance directives and powers of attorney. In Virginia, living wills can go by several different names. They are usually printed on brightly colored stock and provide directions to caregivers about what procedures to do or not do in case of an emergency.

A power of attorney is another powerful tool for making health care decisions. There are many different ways power of attorney can be granted through documentation, and each will be different depending on the needs of the specific grantor. At its core, this legal tool gives a third party power to make important decisions for the grantor in the event of incapacitation.

Incapacitation, sometimes refereed to as incompetency, is a legal term that refers to a person who can’t adequately review information or come to logical conclusions about issues that affect them. People can become incapacitated through diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia and even head injuries. It’s important to get documents in order quickly because many health care decisions need to happen quickly.

For those planning to grant a power of attorney, acting sooner rather than later is important. An estate planning lawyer can work closely with a client going through the process. Close members of the family are often entrusted with powers of attorney, but some individuals may choose a lawyer they trust to take on this responsibility if they don’t have a family member who is ready or able.