North Carolina End of Life Guide

Advance Directives 

Advance Directives are legal documents that allow you to make known your end-of-life care ahead of time. The state of North Carolina recognizes your right to decide the terms of your own medical treatment and to assign a person to make those decisions when you are not able to do so. 

Here are some important questions to consider before beginning this process:

  • Is this document(s) state specific? No

  • Does this document(s) need to be notarized? Yes

  • Does this document(s) require witnesses? If so, how many? Yes / 2

  • Can you legally use Aging With Dignity's 5 Wishes DocYes

There is an Advance Directive packet for North Carolina that includes a Living Will form as well as a Health Care Proxy form. You can download this packet by clicking below:


(Source: North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services)

Death With Dignity

Death With Dignity laws allow the dying more control of their death and end-of-life decisions. These laws allow terminally-ill, able-minded state residents to request and receive prescription medication to hasten their death.

In North Carolina, Death With Dignity legislation has not been passed nor submitted under a House or Senate bill. 

Designated Funeral Agent

North Carolina law supports the appointment of a Designated Funeral Agent to follow through on your written personal preferences (see below) or make funeral arrangements on your behalf if no written preferences are indicated.

North Carolina Public Law G.S. 130A-420(a) outlines the right of "an individual at least 18 years of age may authorize the type, place, and method of disposition of the individual's own dead body... (and) may delegate his or her right to dispose of his or her own body to any person."

The best place to do this in your Healthcare Power of Attorney (found below), though you can use a stand-alone Designated Funeral Agent form.

The appointment of a designated funeral agent will override the next-of-kin's usual authority and let the citizen designate whom he/she wants to control the disposition of his body.


Financial Assistance

There is no state-wide indigent burial fund, and any county assistance is very limited.  Individuals should check with the local county department of social services to determine if any assistance or resource is available.

See our Financial Assistance Chart for more details.

Home Funerals

Home funerals, or family led funerals, are 100% legal in North Carolina. Your family or appointed agent may care for the deceased and handle all your funeral arrangements and necessary paperwork (permits and certificates) without a funeral director:

Check with the National Home Funeral Alliance for up-to-date details on how to navigate home funerals in North Carolina.

Personal Preference Law

Personal preference laws for body disposition obligate your survivors to follow your written personal preferences. This often goes hand-in-hand with designating a funeral agent to follow through with your funeral or body disposition preferences.  

In North Carolina, you can indicate your personal preference in your Healthcare Power of Attorney. We recommend outlining your funeral preference in the Healthcare Power of Attorney and sharing them with your designated funeral agent, next-of-kin, or spouse, giving you the best chance of having them seen through or upheld in the courts.