About Advance Directives

North Carolina has two ways for you to make a formal advance directive – a Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney (see explanations below). It is the policy of UNC Blue Ridge is to comply with North Carolina law about a person's right to request a natural death.

If you have an advance directive, please give us a copy. The advance directive becomes a part of your medical record and is used to help your doctor decide about the treatment that you want. Our chaplains hold seminars once a month to explain advance directives and healthcare power of attorney. To find out when the next seminar is scheduled, please call 828-580-5404 or 828-580-7759.

Living Wills

In North Carolina, a Living Will is a document that tells others that you want to die a natural death if you are diagnosed as terminally or incurably sick or are in a persistent vegetative state from which you will not recover. In a living will, you can direct your doctor not to use heroic treatments that will delay your dying, for example by using a breathing machine ("respirator" or "ventilator"), or to stop such treatments if they have been started. You can also direct your doctor not to begin or stop giving you food and water through a tube ("artificial nutrition or hydration").

Healthcare Power of Attorney

In North Carolina, you can name a person to make medical care decisions for you if you later become unable to decide for yourself. This person is called your "healthcare agent." In the legal document, you name who you want your agent to be. You may choose a relative or someone else. You can say what medical treatment you would want and what you would not want. Your agent then knows what choices you would make. You should choose someone you trust and discuss your wishes with the person before you put it in writing.

Creating an Advance Directive

You must first follow several rules when you make a formal living will or health care power of attorney. These rules are to protect you and ensure that your wishes are clear to the doctor who may be asked to carry them out. Both the Living Will and the Healthcare Power of Attorney must be written and signed by you while you are still able to understand your condition and treatment choices and to make those choices known. Both types of advance directives must be witnessed by two qualified people and be notarized.

The hospital's Case Management workers or Chaplains can help you with questions concerning your Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney documents. The Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney documents are available at no charge to our patients through the Case Management office.


You may also hear about a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) or a Medical Scope of Treatment (MOST) order. These address end-of-life treatment options.

Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

If you would like to be an organ, eye or tissue donor, share your decision with families and friends. In North Carolina, you can designate you are an organ donor on your NC driver’s license. UNC Blue Ridge uses Life Share of the Carolinas. For more information, call 1-800-932-4483 or visit donatelifenc.org.