The document is designed to express your wishes as to medical treatment in terminal illness or injury situations, and to appoint someone to communicate for you in the event you cannot communicate for yourself. These documents are known as “living wills,” “medical directives,” “health care proxies,” or “advance health care directives.”
North Carolina maintains an Advance Directive Registry. By filing your advance directive with the registry, your health care provider and loved ones may be able to find a copy of your directive in the event you are unable to provide one.
Turner Law Firm, PLLC can complete the process and confirm that it does in fact reflect your desires.
Most important, many of the provisions of such a document have profound religious and philosophical implications. Be certain that whatever you sign is consistent with your beliefs and wishes. In addition to terminal illness or injury situations, also consider your preferences as to treatment using life-sustaining equipment or tube feeding for medical conditions that leave you permanently unconscious and without detectable brain activity.
A living will applies in situations in which the decision to use such treatments may prolong your life for a limited period of time and not obtaining such treatment would result in your death. Having a living will does not mean that medical professionals would deny you pain medications and other treatments that would relieve pain or otherwise make you more comfortable. Living wills do not determine your medical treatment in situations that do not affect your continued life, such as routine medical treatment and non-life-threatening medical conditions. You can also include other medical directions that you wish your physicians to be aware of regarding the types of treatment you do or do not wish to receive.
In addition to helping your physician, these documents express your wishes to your family so that they do not have to guess about what you would want. Making your wishes known in advance prevents family members from making hard choices at what likely will be one of the most stressful times in their lives.
While all states recognize these types of documents, the law varies as to whether a state will recognize a document prepared in another state. It is not necessary to prepare additional documents in case you might vacation in another state. If you spend a considerable amount of time living in more than one state, however, you should consider having such documents prepared in each of the states in which you spend significant periods of time.
Should you change your mind about your health care treatment or end of life decisions or your choice of health care proxy, you can simply destroy the documents you have and create new ones. Once you have a living will, health care proxy, or advance health care directive, you should keep it among your important papers. Make sure a responsible adult, such as the named health care proxy, knows where you keep these documents. If you have a regular physician who keeps your medical records, you should provide a copy of the document to him or her for your medical records. In the event you are admitted to a hospital, you should take this document with you at the time you are admitted and permit the hospital to place a copy of it into your medical file. It is also a good idea to discuss the decisions you have made in your document with family members so that they may better know and understand your wishes concerning these matters.