What is a Health Care Directive?

A legal document that gives you control over whether your life will be prolonged by certain medical procedures should you be unable to make those decisions yourself. It allows you to designate whether or not you wish to be kept alive by the use of extraordinary means in the event that you are diagnosed as terminally ill or you are in a permanent coma.

Where Do I Get a Health Care Directive?

NC Planning can certainly provide you with a health care directive, such as a living will, but you may also be able to create one yourself. Chapter 90, Section 321 of the North Carolina General Statutes provides a sample health care directive, which can be copied and used by anyone in the state of North Carolina.  As long as the document is signed, proved, witnessed and dated, any doctor in the state of North Carolina can rely upon it, unless the patient revokes it during the time he is undergoing care.

You may also draft your own health care directive.  As long as it substantially complies with the example set forth in the statutes and the requirements therein, doctors in this state will honor it.  Should you move out of state, after drafting a personal health care directive, please make certain that your directive complies with the requirements set forth by that state, as they may be different from those of North Carolina.

When Does My Health Care Directive Take Effect?

A health care directive becomes effective when and if the physician or physicians determine in writing that the declarant lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate decisions relating to the health care of the declarant and continues in effect during the incapacity of the principal.