Healthcare Power of Attorney

Before You Start

  • Have you reviewed the statutory form?
  • Are you at least 18 years old?
  • Have you decided which powers to include?
  • Have you decided who you want to be your Agent?
  • Have you decided if you want your organs donated?
  • Have you decided if you want an autopsy?
  • Have you decided on funeral arrangements?

Important Information

Healthcare Powers of Attorney are controlled by Chapter 32A of the North Carolina General Statutes [click here]. 

The Statutory Form is available here [HTML | PDF]. 

The Healthcare POA is sometimes called an Advance Healthcare Directive or a Living Will. 

The HCPOA is only ‘in effect’ when you are unable to make or communicate healthcare decisions. If you are able to make or communicate your healthcare decisions, your healthcare providers should not be asking your Agent for their decision. 

Your HCPOA must be notarized with two witnesses. Your witnesses must be not related to you, not entitled to anything from your estate, not your attending physician, not your licensed healthcare provider or  mental healthcare provider that an employee of the principal’s attending physician or facility where the principal receives care. 

HCPOA Sections

Explanation. This is important information for the Principal, or person making a HCPOA.

Designation. This is where you list your Agents. These are listed in succession, not as co-agents.

Effectiveness. The effectiveness of your HCPOA can be enacted by EITHER physicians of your choosing or your attending physician. I always recommend leaving it to your attending physician since I imagine the HCPOA to be most relevant during terminal illness treatment or in the event of an emergency. 

Revocation. You can revoke your HCPOA at any time. 

General Authority. The HCPOA gives all general authority except for specific exceptions, unlike the POA where you designate each general authority. 

Special Provisions and Limitations. I like to include language here that there are no limitations, but rather guidance. It can be difficult for family members to remember your wishes while in crisis, so guidelines help. Limitations show your physician that you do not trust your Agent to act in your interest. 

Organ Donation. Only select one option, but also remember if you wish to donate your organs, you can help the process by signing up to be an organ donor. 

Guardianship. Like in a POA, you can recommend your Agent also be your Guardian in the event guardianship is required. 

Reliance. Third parties may rely on the HCPOA that they have access to. This is important that if you revoke your HCPOA, you share the revocation with anyone who had the HCPOA you want revoked. 

Miscellaneous Provisions. These include the laws governing your HCPOA.

Signatures. Sign this portion in front of a notary with your witnesses. You must be of sound mind when you sign, and your witnesses are also attesting to that. 

Next Steps

Sign your HCPOA with your witnesses in front of a notary. 

Give your HCPOA to your Agent, your regular healthcare provider, recurrent and potential terminal healthcare providers (think cancer specialists, dementia/Alzheimer specialists), and upload to your healthcare portal (MyChart, etc). 

Consider uploading your HCPOA to the Secretary of State’s online registry here. This is optional. Your HCPOA is still effective even if its not uploaded. I recommend this because it is sometimes easier to share a username and password than the entire document.