Complete Topic List


What Is A Health Care Directive?

What Is A Health Care Directive?

It is a document in which you (the principal) appoint someone (the agent) to make health care decisions for you. It contains your wishes on the medical treatment you do or do not want to receive.

What Health Care Decisions Can Your Agent Make?

Your agent can make all health care decisions including the withholding of life support systems, subject to any limitations you place on the agent.

Your agent can only make decisions when you are unable to make your own decisions. This is determined by your doctor and must be in writing.

You may authorize your agent to make Health Care decisions even when you’re able to make your own decisions.

What Are My Agent’s Responsibilities In Carrying Out My Wishes?

  • Your agent must follow your wishes as stated orally, and in the Health Care Directive.
  • If your wishes are unknown, the agent must make health care decisions with your interests in mind.

Are There Any Health Care Decisions The Agent Cannot Make?

  • The agent cannot consent to psychosurgery, abortion, or sterilization, unless approved by a court.
  • The agent cannot place you in a mental health facility or state institution for more than 45 days, without a mental health proceeding or court order.

Who Should I Appoint As My Agent?

  • You should appoint someone whom you trust to carry out your wishes.
  • You can also appoint an alternate agent. An alternate agent can carry out your wishes if your agent cannot act, or withdraws and you cannot appoint another agent.

Is There Anyone I Cannot Appoint As My Agent or Alternate Agent?

You cannot appoint your health care provider, your long-term care provider, or a non-relative employee of these providers.

What Do I Do With My Health Care Directive?

Make copies and give the Health Care Directive to all your health care providers (hospitals, clinics, etc.)

How Do I Know That My Doctor Or Health Care Provider Will Follow My Agent's Decisions?

Your doctor or any other health care provider must follow the directives of your agent.

  • If they will not follow the directive, they must inform you, if possible, and your agent.
  • The provider must then transfer your care to another provider who is willing to follow the directive.

When Does a Health Care Directive End?

It ends when you die or when you revoke it.

Disclaimer: This information is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should talk to a lawyer and ask for advice about your options.

February 2017

Cite: N.D. Cent. Code 23-06.5
Published in conjunction with Department of Aging Services - Title III.