Virginia End of Life Guide

Advance Directives 

Advance Directives are legal documents that allow you to make known your end-of-life care ahead of time. The state of Virginia recognizes your right to decide the terms of your own medical treatment and to assign a person to make those decisions when you are not able to do so. 

Here are some important questions to consider before beginning this process:

  • Is this document(s) state specific? No

  • Does this document(s) need to be notarized? No

  • Does this document(s) require witnesses? If so, how many? Yes / 2

  • Can you legally use Aging With Dignity's 5 Wishes Doc? Yes

  • There is a single Advance Directive form for Virginia that you can download by clicking the button below:


(Source: Virginia State Bar)

Death With Dignity

Death with Dignity laws allow the dying more control of their death and end-of-life decisions. These laws allow terminally-ill, able-minded state residents to request and receive prescription medication to hasten their death. 

In Virginia, Death With Dignity legislation has not been passed nor submitted under a House or Senate Bill. 

Designated Funeral Agent

Virginia law supports the appointment of a designated funeral agent to follow through on your written personal preferences (see below) or make funeral arrangements on your behalf if no written preferences are indicated.

Virginia Law 54.1-2825 (link is a Word doc) states that "any person may designate in a signed and notarized writing... an individual who shall make arrangements (for the) disposition of his remains." 

The appointment of a designated funeral agent will override the next-of-kin's usual authority and let the citizen designate whom he/she wants to control the disposition of his body.


Financial Assistance

Virgina offers funeral assistance to those on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Funds vary by county and you must apply for assistance through your county or municipality. Payment is given to the relevant funeral professional.

See our Financial Assistance Chart for more details.

Home Funeral

Home funerals, or family led funerals, are 100% legal in Virginia. Your family or appointed agent may care for the deceased and handle all your funeral arrangements and necessary paperwork (permits and certificates) without a funeral director.

Check with the National Home Funeral Alliance up-to-date details on how to navigate home funerals in Virginia.

Personal Preference Law

Personal preference laws for body disposition obligate your survivors to follow your written [or verbal] personal preferences. This often goes hand-in-hand with designating a funeral agent to follow through with your funeral or body disposition preferences. 

In Virginia, there is a statutory duty to comply with the written wishes of the deceased. We recommend outlining your funeral preference in writing and sharing them with your designated funeral agent, next-of-kin, or spouse, giving you the best chance of having them seen through or upheld in court.