Advance Care Planning
Advance health-care planning is deciding the kind of care you want at the end of life. While alert competent adults are able to exercise their rights to make health care and financial decisions, problems arise when an individual becomes unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to communicate or make such decisions. Advance health care directives are the legal documents in which you give written instructions about your choices limited, aggressive or palliative care if, in the future, you cannot speak for yourself.
Legal tools, called powers of attorney and advance directives are available to help people plan ahead. Consider creating the following documents:
durable power of attorney, health
care power of attorney, and/or a living will.
- A durable power of attorney is a legal document which states you appoint someone as your agent to manage your affairs either immediately or in the event you become incapacitated. To protect your interests, prevent fraud and to ensure the document meets your needs, it is important that you consult with an attorney before signing any power of attorney. To view a sample short-form power of attorney document, see Article 1 of North Carolina General Statute §32A-.
If you do not know an attorney who has experience in elder law issues, the North Carolina Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service where you can arrange for a 30 minute consultation for $50.
For persons of any age who meet the limited income and asset requirements to be eligible for legal aid, there are regional Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) offices across the state.
If you are age 60 or older, and do not have the resources to consult with or hire an attorney, Title III B of the Older Americans Act (OAA) provides some funding for legal services for seniors in the greatest economic and/or social need. For a county by county list of both LANC and OAA providers go to: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/aging/services/legsvc.htm.
The NC Secretary of State's office has an online Advance Health Care Directive Registry that allows you to download free copies of health care power of attorney and living will forms. The website also provides a registry where NC residents may file up to four different advance directive documents.
A health care power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to act as
your health care agent to make health care decisions for you should
it be determined by your physician that you are no longer able to
make these decisions for yourself.
A living will is a legal document in which you can declare that under certain conditions you desire your life not be prolonged by extraordinary or artificial means during your last illness or when you are near death.
Related Topics / Links
American Bar Association's Commission
on Law and Aging offers a useful site dedicated
to examining the law-related concerns of older persons.
The North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance Medical Care Decisions and Advance Directive brochure outlines the steps that you can take to control decisions about your medical and mental health treatment should you become unable to make or express those decisions on your own.
February 8, 2013