Advance Directives | Patients & Visitors | Cape Fear Valley Health
Advance Directives

Advance Directives

For a copy of our Advance Directives booklet with forms, click here.

For a copy of our Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment booklet with forms, click here

What is an Advance Directive?

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: For more information on completing Advance Instructions for Mental Health Treatment (AKA Psychiatric Advance Directives), please visit

  1. Living Will
  2. Healthcare Power of Attorney
  3. Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment

What is a Living Will?

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.

What is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to name a person you trust as your healthcare agent to make your healthcare decisions if you cannot make them yourself.

Choosing a Healthcare Agent

  • 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.

What is an Advance Instruction for Mental Health?

An Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment tells physicians and mental health providers what mental health treatments you would want and what treatments you would not want, if you later become unable to decide for yourself.

What happens if I change my mind?

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.

What if I don’t have an Advance Directive?

If you are unable to make your own decisions, your doctor will consult with someone close to you about your care.

Where should I keep a copy of my Advance Directive?

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.

Requirements for your Advance Directive

A Living Will, a Healthcare Power of Attorney and an Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment must be:

  1. Written
  2. Signed by you while you are still able to make and communicate healthcare decisions
  3. Witnessed by two qualified adults
  4. Notarized

For More Information

If you would like more information on advance directives or would like to talk to someone about your options, please contact the Patient Relations Department at (910) 615-6120.