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What is a living will?

A living will is a document that states your choices about the care you want to receive in the event that you cannot make or communicate your own choices. It is sometimes called an advance directive. 

Executing a living will is an excellent way to be sure that your family and care providers are aware of your wishes and will respect them if the time comes. 

When does a living will become effective?

There are three main situations in which a living will usually takes effect: 

  • You have an incurable condition. You are likely to die soon as a result. 
  • You are unconscious. There is little medical possibility that you will ever regain consciousness. 
  • You have advanced dementia or another substantial cognitive impairment. You are unlikely to regain your cognitive ability. 

You may choose to make your living will effective in any or all these situations. 

What care choices does a living will cover?

You may draft a living will with as many care choices as you wish, so long as it complies with North Carolina’s laws. Advance directives typically include choices about life-prolonging measures, such as feeding tubes. 

Where is a living will valid?

If you execute a living will in North Carolina, it is valid anywhere in the state. It is also valid in any state which honors out-of-state directives. Note that North Carolina does not recognize living wills from other states. 

Be sure to file your living will with the state registry. It is also a good idea to discuss your living will with your family and health care providers. 

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