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No Living Will or Health Care POA? Who Decides?

Living Will

If I Do Not Have a Living Will or Health Care Power of Attorney, WHO Will Make These Decisions for Me?

If you do not have a living will or health care power of attorney, the attending physician will ask your spouse or next of kin to consent to treatment, unless a court has appointed a guardian or you have a durable power of attorney which gives your attorney-in-fact powers to make health care decisions for you.

If the attending physician has determined, and another physician has confirmed, that:

(1) You have an incurable or irreversible condition that will result in your death in a relatively short period of time,


(2) You are unconscious and, to a high degree of medical certainty, will never regain consciousness,


North Carolina law provides that the decision to withdraw or withhold life-prolonging measures may be made by the attending physician, after consulting with your guardian or attorney-in-fact, if applicable, and if not, after consulting with your spouse or next of kin.


Living wills and health care powers of attorney are INEXPENSIVE to have prepared. They are highly recommended in order to prevent disputes or disagreements between family members or between your family and the attending physician as to the appropriate medical care because these documents clearly state your preferences and appoint a health care agent with full authority to decide.

Act responsibly and have an attorney prepare both documents for you. Your loved ones and friends will thank you for making these important choices and not burdening them with critical end-of-life decisions.

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About the Author

With over 25+ years of trial experience, attorney Thom Goolsby provides strong services for Personal Injury and Criminal Defense cases.