Does a Health Care Power of Attorney nullify any Living Will Form
In North Carolina, a health care power of attorney is not automatically negated by the later signing of a living will. The health care power of attorney may be written to reference a living will, so that the agent must follow the directions specified in a living will document. A health care power of attorney may be revoked by a later living will if the living will is written so as to express an intention to revoke the health care power of attorney and the principal has the capacity to understand and express this intention. This revocation becomes effective only upon communication by the principal to each health care agent named in the revoked health care power of attorney and to the principal's attending physician or eligible psychologist. If the language is ambiguous as to whether there is an intent to revoke the health care power of attorney, to may be necessary to have a court determine the intentions based upon all the facts and circumstances involved.
The following are NC statutes:
§ 32A-19. Extent of authority; limitations of authority.
(a) A principal, pursuant to a health care power of attorney, may grant to the health care agent full power and authority to make health care decisions to the same extent that the principal could make those decisions for himself or herself if he or she had capacity to make and communicate health care decisions, including without limitation, the power to authorize withholding or discontinuing life-prolonging measures and the power to authorize the giving or withholding of mental health treatment. A health care power of attorney may also contain or incorporate by reference any lawful guidelines or directions relating to the health care of the principal as the principal deems appropriate.
(a1) A health care power of attorney may incorporate or be combined with an advance instruction for mental health treatment prepared pursuant to Part 2 of Article 3 of Chapter 122C of the General Statutes. A health care agent's decisions about mental health treatment shall be consistent with any statements the principal has expressed in an advance instruction for mental health treatment if one so exists, and if none exists, shall be consistent with what the agent believes in good faith to be the manner in which the principal would act if the principal did not lack capacity to make or communicate health care decisions. A health care agent is not subject to criminal prosecution, civil liability, or professional disciplinary action for any action taken in good faith pursuant to an advance instruction for mental health treatment.
(b) A health care power of attorney may authorize the health care agent to exercise any and all rights the principal may have with respect to anatomical gifts, the authorization of any autopsy, and the disposition of remains; provided this authority is limited to incurring reasonable costs related to exercising these powers, and a health care power of attorney does not give the health care agent general authority over a principal's property or financial affairs.
(c) A health care power of attorney may contain, and the authority of the health care agent shall be subject to, the specific limitations or restrictions as the principal deems appropriate.
(d) The powers and authority granted to the health care agent pursuant to a health care power of attorney shall be limited to the matters addressed in it, and, except as necessary to exercise such powers and authority relating to health care, shall not confer any power or authority with respect to the property or financial affairs of the principal.
(e) This Article shall not be construed to invalidate a power of attorney that authorizes an agent to make health care decisions for the principal, which was executed prior to October 1, 1991.
(f) A health care power of attorney does not limit any authority in Article 5 of Chapter 122C of the General Statutes either to take a person into custody or to admit, retain, or treat a person in a facility. § 32A-20. Effectiveness and duration; revocation.
(a) A health care power of attorney shall become effective when and if the physician or physicians or, in the case of mental health treatment, physician or eligible psychologist as defined in G.S. 122C-3(13d), designated by the principal determine in writing that the principal lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate decisions relating to the health care of the principal, and shall continue in effect during the incapacity of the principal. The determination shall be made by the principal's attending physician or eligible psychologist if the physician or physicians or eligible psychologist designated by the principal is unavailable or is otherwise unable or unwilling to make this determination or if the principal failed to designate a physician or physicians or eligible psychologist to make this determination. A health care power of attorney may include a provision that, if the principal does not designate a physician for reasons based on his religious or moral beliefs as specified in the health care power of attorney, a person designated by the principal in the health care power of attorney may certify in writing, acknowledged before a notary public, that the principal lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate decisions relating to his health care. The person so designated must be a competent person 18 years of age or older, not engaged in providing health care to the principal for remuneration, and must be a person other than the health care agent.
(b) Except for purposes of exercising authority granted by a health care power of attorney with respect to anatomical gifts, autopsy, or disposition of remains as provided in G.S. 32A-19 (b), a health care power of attorney is revoked by the death of the principal. A health care power of attorney may be revoked by the principal at any time, so long as the principal is capable of making and communicating health care decisions. The principal may exercise this right of revocation by executing and acknowledging an instrument of revocation, by executing and acknowledging a subsequent health care power of attorney, or in any other manner by which the principal is able to communicate an intent to revoke. This revocation becomes effective only upon communication by the principal to each health care agent named in the revoked health care power of attorney and to the principal's attending physician or eligible psychologist.
(c) The authority of a health care agent who is the spouse of the principal shall be revoked upon the entry by a court of a decree of divorce or separation between the principal and the health care agent; provided that if the health care power of attorney designates a successor health care agent, the successor shall serve as the health care agent, and the health care power of attorney shall not be revoked.