Posted on: June 1st, 2023 by EOS Healthcare Marketing
A living will is important as it allows individuals to clearly express their healthcare wishes and preferences, ensuring that their desires for medical treatment and end-of-life care are respected even if they cannot communicate. It guides healthcare providers and family members, reducing potential conflicts and uncertainty during critical medical situations. A living will promotes personal autonomy, preserves dignity, and provides peace of mind by ensuring one’s wishes are known and followed.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document that outlines an individual’s preferences for medical treatment and end-of-life care if they become incapacitated and unable to communicate. It specifies the desired level of medical intervention, resuscitation measures, and life-sustaining treatments to be administered or withheld. The purpose of a living will is to ensure that one’s healthcare decisions are respected and followed even when one cannot express their wishes directly.
Living Will Requirements for North Carolina
The requirements for a living will in North Carolina are as follows:
Your living will must indicate a clear desire that life-prolonging measures not be used to prolong your life where:
You have an irreversible condition resulting in your death within a relatively short period of time.
Or, you become unconscious, and there’s a high degree of certainty that you will not regain consciousness.
Or, you are suffering from advanced dementia or another condition that results in substantial loss of cognitive ability. That loss, to a high degree of certainty, cannot be regained.
An attending physician has determined that you have a medical condition specified above in your living will for applying your directives. A physician other than the attending physician must confirm the presence of the medical condition.
Your living will must state that you are aware that your will authorizes a physician to withhold or discontinue life-prolonging measures that you specify.
You must sign the legal document in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must believe the declarant is of sound mind, and they may not be related to you by blood or marriage, and they may not be your physician or anything similar. You must also complete an Advance Directive form according to US Statute 90-320.
You must be at least 18 to make a living will. If you face imminent end-of-life, you can make a nuncupative or spoken will, which must be in the presence of two competent witnesses. In the living will, you must nominate a healthcare agent who can decide on your behalf if you can no longer make your own decisions.
It’s best to type the will on a computer and print it out. You must retain the mental capacity to understand the impact and effect of the living will. Also, you must have made the will without pressure from someone else—it must be solely your decision.
Your living will must be proved before a clerk, assistant clerk of the superior court, or a notary public.
Once the living will is executed, it can still be revoked or terminated in North Carolina in several ways. First, you may revoke your living will in writing or in a manner where you communicate your intent to revoke the living will. Next, your healthcare agent can revoke your living will if the power of revocation is explicitly granted to him or she in either your healthcare power of attorney or within your living will.
Steps to Create a Living Will in North Carolina
To make a living will in North Carolina, the following steps are typically involved:
Determine your healthcare wishes: Consider the medical treatments and interventions you would want or not want in the event of incapacity and near end-of-life situations. Reflect on your values, beliefs, and desired quality of life.
Obtain the appropriate form: Obtain a living will form that complies with North Carolina law.
Complete the living will form: Fill out the form, providing your personal information, healthcare instructions, and preferences regarding specific medical treatments or end-of-life care.
Sign the living will: Sign the living will in the presence of two qualified witnesses who are not related to you, not your healthcare agent, and not responsible for your medical care. They must also sign the document.
Distribute copies: Provide copies of the signed living will to your healthcare agent, primary healthcare provider, family members, and other relevant individuals involved in your healthcare.
Discuss with loved ones: Communicate your wishes with your family, loved ones, and healthcare providers. It is important to have open and honest discussions to ensure everyone understands your healthcare preferences.
Keep the document accessible: Store the original, signed living will in a safe and accessible place, and inform your healthcare agent, family members, and healthcare providers of its location.
Review and update as needed: Review your living will to ensure it aligns with your current wishes. Update the document if there are any changes or if you wish to revise your instructions.
Let Us Help You Prepare Your Living Will
My Living Wishes’ experienced staff understands the various requirements for preparing living wills in North Carolina. We will help guide you through the process, answer any questions, and help prepare your end-of-life documents. If you’re ready to discuss your living will with a caring professional, we encourage you to contact us today.