North Carolina is one of approximately two dozen other states where a living Will may not be valid for pregnant women.
An out-of-state case involving a mother-to-be is drawing attention to laws governing advance medical directives and living Wills. In Texas, Erick and Marlise Munoz are experiencing the effects of these laws right now. Marlise suffered a pulmonary embolism just after starting her second trimester and is unconscious. Although she made her wishes clear to her husband that she would not want to be kept on life support, Texas state law prevents women from being taken off life support if they are pregnant.
According to a report from the Center for Women Policy Studies released in 2012, North Carolina has “silent statutes” when it comes to laws addressing pregnancy exclusions in advance directives. North Carolina legislation does not explicitly address how advance directives will be used for pregnant patients.
Advance medical directives in North Carolina (healthcare powers of attorney)—although important tools in the time of a crisis when they are needed—may not be carried out if the incapacitated woman is pregnant. How can women and their families prepare for an event like this? Discuss the scope and limitations of advance directives with a North Carolina estate planning attorney.
A new baby is an important time to update an estate plan, but with the above information in mind it is also important to have a current plan in order before the birth of a child. Read our Chapel Hill estate planning attorneys’ estate planning baby steps.