Are Living Wills and Health POA legal if notarized/ witnessed as free hospital service? Any steps needed after that?

Asked over 1 year ago - Hendersonville, NC

I plan on downloading Advanced Directive forms from the NC Secretary site to take to our local hospital for witness and notary- service they provide for free. I am just trying to educate myself on this process without the more extensive estate planning services of an attorney at this time. I appreciate your help.

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Steven M Zelinger

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    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . If all formalities are followed under state law it should be, but you should still retain the services of an attorney to explain the details to you and no one can promise that a downloaded form will be honored when needed.

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is... more
  2. Joseph Franklin Pippen Jr.

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    Answered . Your free forms could work if properly executed but do replace the documents that an attorney could provide plus the value of an attorney relationship when difficult times come.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of... more
  3. Joseph Michael Pankowski Jr

    Contributor Level 18

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    Answered . Attorney Zelinger is correct. Provided that the forms are properly executed, they should be legal, especially if down-loaded from a state government website. With that said, they may or may not do what you want them to do, so a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer is really in your interests. Good luck to you.

    This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor... more
  4. James P. Frederick

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . In addition to what the others have said, some of the benefit you get with an attorney is you have someone who can both assess the principal's mental capacity and defend the forms, if someone challenges you. The problem with the do-it-yourself approach is that it is more likely that people will refuse to accept the documents. If that happens, you are stuck with probate appointment of a guardian/conservator.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ******... more
  5. William Thomas Schemmel

    Contributor Level 11

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    Answered . I agree with all of the attorneys that said the documents you reference, provided they contain appropriate language and are properly executed by a competent principal can be valid, notwithstanding that the service is free. Nevertheless I also agree that there are disadvantages in doing it yourself inasmuch as an attorney can assist with competency issues and advise concerning a myriad of other issues, including other documents that may be appropriate, such as wills, durable powers of attorney, trusts, Medicaid issues, and many more. Your inquiry suggests that you may be pursuing more comprehensive legal work later. Be sure that later does not become too late. Best of luck to you. This answer is subject to the disclaimer below.

    The foregoing is general information based upon limited information, should not be construed as legal advice , and... more
  6. Martha Ann Knutson

    Contributor Level 11

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    Answered . Bravo on planning ahead about healthcare decisions that might need to be made for in the future. Less than 1 in 10 people in the U.S. do - and most that do not also don't realize the great gift they could be giving their family / those that care for them by doing this.

    I used to be a inhouse counsel at a hospital so my advice comes from that perspective:

    Pick and execute a form that makes sense to you - if you believe that you understand what you are signing chances are that the doctors and other healthcare professionals who made read it in the future will be able to understand it as well.

    If you appoint someone to make decisions for you in the event of incapacity (and an alternate in case person number 1 isn't available), make sure they know this and feel comfortable serving in that role. The first person I asked said "no, I can't". Even if they agree, they may also want to talk about your preferences ahead of time - or they may not.

    Give anyone you think might care a copy of your directive - that includes you primary care physician, family members, etc. North Carolina has a "registry", but this is still a good idea even if you "register" your completed document.

    Also, if your wish is to avoid resuscitation by the local EMS when you aren't in the hospital, talk with your physician and see if a out of hospital DNR form would be appropriate. There's more information about these on the website where you mentioned.

    Good luck.

    This response is intended to provide general information, but not legal advice. The response may be different if... more

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