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Advance Directives

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a document that allows a person to choose to die a natural death and avoid life prolonging measures if, as specified in the advance directive, any or all of the following occur:

  • The declarant has an incurable or irreversible condition that will result in the declarant's death within a relatively short period of time,
  • The declarant becomes unconscious and, to a high degree of medical certainty, will never regain consciousness, or
  • The declarant suffers from advanced dementia or any other condition resulting in the substantial loss of cognitive ability and that loss, to a high degree of medical certainty, is not reversible. 

What is the purpose of an Advance Directive?

North Carolina has recognized as a matter of public policy that an individual's rights include the right to a peaceful and natural death and that a patient or the patient's representative has the fundamental right to control the decisions relating to the rendering of the patient's own medical care, including the decision to have life-prolonging measures withheld or withdrawn in instances of terminal condition. N.C.G.S. section 90-320. Simply put, the purpose of an advance directive is for an individual to be taken off life support when certain circumstances apply to that person's health condition and its deteriorating position.

What if I want my Advance Directive in my Health Care Power of Attorney?

Under North Carolina law, an advance directive may be combined with or incorporated into a health care power of attorney form. 

Can I have my Advance Directive override my Health Care Power of Attorney Agent?

Yes, you may have your instructions to die a natural death override your health care power of attorney agent to avoid hardship and struggle with the decision of letting you go.

Do I need an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a great document to reduce stress, hardship and fighting between family members during an individual's passing. An Advance Directive is crucial to avoiding prolonged suffering due to unfortunate circumstances. Without an Advance Directive, your estate planning will not be comprehensive.

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