For a copy of our Advance Directives booklet with forms, click here.
An advance directive is a set of written directions you give about the healthcare you want in the event you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. North Carolina has three ways for you to make a formal advance directive:
1. Living Will
2. Healthcare Power of Attorney
3. Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment
A Living Will is a legal document that tells others that you want to die a natural death if you:
• become incurably sick with an irreversible condition that will result in
your death within a short period of time
• are unconscious and your physician determines that it is highly unlikely you will regain consciousness; or
• have advanced dementia or a similar condition which results in a substantial cognitive loss and it is highly unlikely the condition can be reversed.
Living Wills allow you to direct your physician not to use certain life-prolonging treatments, such as breathing machines or to stop giving you food and water through a tube.
• Choose someone you trust
• Discuss your wishes with this person before making them your healthcare agent
• An agent can be anyone close to you. It does not have to be a relative.
An Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment tells physicians and mental health providers what mental health treatments you would want and what eatments would not want, if you later become unable to decide for yourself.
You can change your Living Will at any time by communicating your intent to cancel it. Inform your physician and those closest to you about your decision and destroy any copies.
Healthcare Powers of Attorney can be changed while you are able to make and communicate your decisions. You can do this by executing another one and telling your physician, each healthcare agent you named or the attending physician or eligible psychologist of your intent to cancel the previous one.
Keep it in a safe place where your family members or healthcare agent can get it. Also, consider registering your advance directives with the North Carolina Advance Healthcare Directive Registry:
If you are admitted to the hospital, bring your Advance Directive with you. Your nurse will make a copy for your lifetime electronic medical record.
A Living Will, a Healthcare Power of Attorney and an Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment must be:
2. Signed by you while you are still able to make and communicate healthcare decisions
3. Witnessed by two qualified adults