Whilst everyone is familiar with Wills which take effect on death, some people desire
to express what their wishes would be if they were to become unable to convey their
It is possible for you to give directions for your medical care and personal welfare
whilst you are fit and healthy.
There are several methods of doing so:
· You may sign and register a Personal Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney
· You may prepare and sign a Living Will
· You may execute an Advance Directive
Personal Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney
This allows you to choose someone to make decisions about your healthcare and welfare.
This includes decisions to refuse or consent to treatment on your behalf and deciding
where you live. These decisions can only be taken on your behalf when the Lasting
Power of Attorney is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and when you
lack the capacity to make the decisions yourself.
A living Will is a written statement where you may personally set out which treatments
you feel you would, or wouldn’t wish to receive if you were to lose mental capacity.
It is not legally binding but health professionals are required to take these wishes
into account when deciding your treatment. A living Will may be made verbally but
a written document is preferable.
A valid advance directive is the same as refusing treatment if you have capacity
– the treatment cannot lawfully be given or the doctor may risk facing civil liability
or criminal prosecution.
However it cannot be used to:
· Ask for your life to be ended
· Force doctors to act against their professional judgment
· Nominate someone else to decide about your treatment
(as with a Lasting Power of Attorney)
The legal basis for Advance Directives is found in the Mental Capacity Act which
gives strict guidelines on how these documents should be prepared, what would be
included and details on how they should be followed.