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What is a Living Will?

This legal document gives instructions to your healthcare providers and loved ones that reflect your healthcare wishes.

Jun 28, 2023

A Living Will is a legal document that gives instructions to your healthcare providers and loved ones that reflect your healthcare wishes. This document specifically addresses your desire to avoid life-prolonging measures in the following end of life situations.

  • Situation #1: You have a condition that cannot be cured and will result in your death within a short period of time.
  • Situation #2: You are unconscious, and your doctors are confident that you cannot regain consciousness.
  • Situation #3: You have advanced dementia or other substantial loss of mental function that cannot be reversed.

Common Questions & Helpful Answers

Q: What are life-prolonging measures?
A: Life-prolonging measures are medical interventions and treatments used with the purpose of extending or prolonging someone’s life. Most people consider this to mean life support or being placed on a ventilator. Life-prolonging measures may also include interventions such as artificial nutrition and hydration also known as tube feedings. A Living Will gives you the option to say whether you do or do not want these treatments.

Q: How can I change or void a Living Will?
A: You may destroy, void, or replace your Living Will just as you are able to change or void your Healthcare Power of Attorney.

Q: What if I don’t have a Living Will?
A: Just as with the Healthcare Power of Attorney, your healthcare providers will follow North Carolina law and consult with your loved ones who must make these decisions for you.

Q: What if my healthcare agent makes decisions that are different from those I have specified in my Living Will?
A: You have an option on the Living Will to tell your healthcare providers which decisions to make in this situation. You can choose to tell your healthcare providers to rely on your healthcare agent or to strictly follow your Living Will.


If you have questions about a Living Will, you can reach out to your healthcare provider or contact a member of your care team.