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North Carolina advance health care directive template

You can complete FindLaw’s attorney-created health care directive forms in less than an hour at home. Our guided process takes you through a few easy steps and includes a free HIPAA release form. You’ll be able to download, print and sign your documents in no time.

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North Carolina health care directive options that work for you

Health Care Directive

For One Person

A do-it-yourself health care directive that’s easy to personalize.

What’s included:
What’s included
Step-by-step guided process
A health care directive tailored to your needs
Attorney-approved document compliant with your state’s laws
Free HIPAA release form
Free changes and revisions to your document for up to a full year after purchase


Estate Planning Package

For One person

All the forms you need to create a personal estate plan

What’s included:
What’s included
Last will and testament
Health care directive
Power of attorney
Free HIPAA release form
A comprehensive plan — for less
Free changes and revisions for up to one year after purchase

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Reliable North Carolina health care directives from anywhere

In the event that you ever become seriously ill or injured, you could become unable to make your own medical choices. If you do not have a health care directive in place, your doctors may then administer treatments for you that you would not have wanted. With this document (also known as an “Advance Directive for a Natural Death” in North Carolina) you can take your future health care decisions into your own hands. In addition to ensuring that your wishes are carried out, a health care directive may spare your loved ones from having to make difficult medical choices for you. Download our free North Carolina Advance Health Care Directive Template in PDF on this page.


Written by:

Kimberly Lekman, Esq.

Contributing Author


Reviewed by:

Tim Kelly, J.D.

Contributing Author

How it works

Create your health care directive in under an hour

Create an account

Create a secure account which is accessible through an easy dashboard you can access any time

Gather information

Decide who will be your health care agent/proxy, which treatments you would request or refuse and release your records

Complete your document

Answer all questions, then we’ll generate your digital documents for downloading, printing, and signing

Make it legal

Print and sign your document according to instructions. Give copies to your doctors and agent/proxy

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Plan for your future with confidence

This free guide will help you:

  • Learn the most common estate planning terms

  • Understand the essential estate planning tools

  • Gather critical information with an estate planning checklist

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What’s next to make my North Carolina health care directive valid?

Follow these steps:

Make decisions on future health care issues

A health care directive is a type of advance health care directive (“advance directive“). You can use this document to describe your future medical wishes in case of a serious illness or injury. Through a health care directive, you will make decisions about life-prolonging measures under end-of-life medical conditions. Life-prolonging measures are procedures that prolong natural death. They include artificial nutrition and hydration, ventilation, dialysis, and others. Through your health care directive, you can make your preferences on pain medications and comfort care known too.

Although these issues can be unpleasant to consider, it may give you peace of mind to know that you have made your medical wishes clear. A health care directive can even help prevent strife among loved ones who may have conflicting opinions on your health care.

Choose your health care agent

In North Carolina, you have the option of naming a trusted person to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself. This person is known as a health care agent.

The document you can use to name a health care agent is called a health care power of attorney. This is another type of advance directive in addition to a health care directive. You are under no obligation to name a health care agent, but you may want to. This person will be able to make medical decisions for you that are not covered by your health care directive. If you would like, you can give this person the authority to override your health care directive. Otherwise, they are legally obligated to follow your expressed wishes.

When you select a health care agent, you should choose the person you trust the most with your health care decisions. They will have broad authority over your medical choices in case you ever become unable to give informed consent on treatments. So, you should make sure that they understand the types of care you would refuse or accept. They should also be familiar with your end-of-life medical wishes.

According to chapter 32A of North Carolina statutes, you can choose any competent adult as your health care agent as long as this person is not your paid health care provider. Many people choose a close loved one, such as a sibling, a parent, an adult child, or a spouse for this role. Before committing to a health care agent, you should talk to this person to make sure that they are willing and able to take on this important responsibility.

Sign your health care directive

To make your health care directive a legally valid document, you must sign it. According to chapter 90 of the North Carolina statutes, there must be two witnesses present at the time of signing, and you must get the document notarized. Your witnesses and the notary public should all sign the document. You should be aware, however, that there are a few restrictions on your choice of witnesses.

The following people may not witness your health care directive:

  • Anyone who is related to you or your spouse
  • Anyone who could inherit from you
  • Your attending physician or their employees
  • Employees of a health care facility where you receive treatment
  • Employees of a nursing home or adult care facility where you reside
  • Anyone who could have a legal claim against your estate after your death

These restrictions may eliminate most people in your inner circle from witnessing your health care directive. To properly comply with the witnessing requirement, you may need to ask coworkers, neighbors, or other acquaintances to act as witnesses.

If you have any trouble finding a notary public, North Carolina’s Secretary of State maintains a database to help you find one nearby.

Distribute your advance directives

After you have properly signed and notarized your advance directives, you should distribute them to the right people. Your health care agent, medical providers, and loved ones should all receive copies. This will help them to understand your wishes and to carry out your instructions if necessary.

Further, you have the option of filing your advance directive with North Carolina’s Advance Health Care Directive Registry. If you would like to do this, you should fill out the registration form and submit copies of your advance directives to the address listed. After you file, you will receive a registry card that you can keep in your wallet. This card will contain identifying information that your loved ones or doctors can use to access your advance directives in the case of an emergency.

Update your advance directives

A good rule of thumb is to review your advance directives every few years at least. However, if you go through significant life events, you may need to update your estate plan (including your advance directives) sooner.

If you have received a new diagnosis, gone through a divorce, completed an out-of-state move, or experienced any other major changes, you should take a fresh look at your documents. This will help to ensure that your advance directives reflect your current wishes. If you create a health care directive through FindLaw, you can make unlimited changes to it for any reason for a full year after purchase.

You may want to speak with a lawyer if:

  • Your family disagrees with your medical choices
  • You don’t know who to appoint as your agent
  • You have questions about life prolonging measures
  • You want legal review of your completed document
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Common questions about North Carolina health care directives

No. Wills and living wills have confusingly similar names, but they are very different legal documents.

last will and testament (a “will”) is the primary estate planning document. You can use a will to describe how you would like your assets to be distributed after your death. If you have minor children, you can name guardians for them in a will too. However, you cannot use a will to address medical issues.

A living will, also known as a health care directive, is a document you use to give instructions to your health care professionals in case you ever become incapacitated due to a serious medical condition. You cannot use a health care directive to provide for the distribution of your assets.

You may want to create both a health care directive and a will. These documents can both be part of a comprehensive estate plan. Your health care directive details your wishes for medical care, and your will contains instructions regarding who should receive your assets after your death.

To make your health care directive a legally binding document in North Carolina, you must follow certain basic requirements:

  • You must sign your document.
  • There should be at least two adult witnesses present when you sign. They must also sign the document to verify that you are of sound mind, that they are not related to you, and not otherwise legally restricted from acting as witnesses.
  • You must notarize your document.

Note that there are several categories of individuals who may not act as witnesses to your health care directive. Generally, your witnesses cannot be people who are related to you or your spouse, who could benefit financially from your death, who are your health care providers, or who are employed by your health care providers. These restrictions are covered in more detail in the steps above. Since your family members will not be able to witness your document, you may need to ask friends or neighbors to act as witnesses.

When you sign a health care power of attorney, you are giving your health care agent broad powers over your future medical decisions. For this reason, you should choose this person carefully. You should talk to them to make sure that they understand your treatment preferences and end-of-life decisions.

Your health care agent will generally have the power to make any medical choices you would have been able to make for yourself when you had the capacity to do so. Under North Carolina law, this includes decisions related to life-sustaining procedures, mental health treatments, anatomical gifts, and others. Their duty is to carry out the instructions in your advance directives and to act in your best interest where there are no instructions.

If you would prefer your health care directive to take priority over your agent’s choices, you can make this clear in your advance directives. Or, you have the option of allowing your health care agent to make choices that override the directions in your health care directive. This decision will largely be based on your personal preferences and your relationship with your health care agent.

In North Carolina, there are three types of medical conditions that can cause the provisions in your health care directive to become effective:

  • An incurable or irreversible condition that will cause death in a short period of time
  • Unconsciousness that is permanent to a high degree of medical certainty
  • Advanced dementia or another condition that causes an irreversible loss of cognitive function

Your attending physician and another physician would need to verify the existence of one of these conditions before your health care directive can become operative.

In your document, you choose whether you would prefer the withholding of life-prolonging treatments under the above circumstances. Even if you would prefer not to receive heroic life-sustaining treatment under these conditions, you still have the option to request artificial hydration and/or nutrition as well as pain medication.

You have the right to change your mind about the choices in your advance directives at any time. Your mental and physical condition have no impact on your ability to change or revoke your choices.

If you would like to completely revoke your health care directive, you can do so in writing or through any other method that clearly conveys your intention to revoke. A good way of communicating your intention to revoke is by creating a new health care directive that revokes all prior ones.

You can create a new document and revoke your prior one with FindLaw. The process only takes about half an hour, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of home to complete it.

After you have revoked your health care directive or created a new one, you should be sure to destroy all copies of the old one, if possible. You then need to inform your health care agent, loved ones, and health care workers about these changes. It’s important that you notify your medical staff immediately so that they can update your medical records. They cannot be held liable for acting on the provisions in your advance directives if they were unaware of the revocation.

Finally, if you registered your advance directives with the Advance Health Care Directive Registry, you will need to file a removal form to notify them of your revocation.

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