Patrick's in-depth knowledge of the subject, combined with his quiet, calm professional manner put our minds at rest - before our bodies! Dave Saunders
0117 907 1002
Willing to give peace of mind
An Advance Decision,also known as a living will is a written statement setting out your wishes regarding medical procedures, against a time that you are unable to give verbal instructions. The Mental Capacity Act of 2005 provides the legislative framework, allowing any person over the age of eighteen years to make an Advance Decision.
Health professionals will be legally liable should they disregard the terms of an Advance Decision, provided that they are aware of its existence, it is clear and unambiguous and it is applicable to the specific circumstances. An independent person (not family members) should witness it if it includes provision to refuse life sustaining treatment.
It is important to review an Advance Decision regularly - at least every five years as a minimum. The date and fact of each review should be noted on the Advance Decision if it is not otherwise altered. If it is not kept current, or if they do not know of its existence, health professionals will be entitled to ignore it.
An attorney appointed under a Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney could make such decisions for you instead. When making decisions on your behalf, any such an attorney should have regard to the content of any Advance Decision(Living Will) you may make.
Florence is a single divorced lady for whom I had prepared a Will. She was concerned that should she become ill there would be no-one available to make decisions on her behalf. Her main worry was that she would not be able to refuse treatment in appropriate circumstances. She was anxious to ensure that her life would not be unnecessarily prolonged should she contract a terminal illness with no genuine prospect of recovery to a reasonable quality of life.
We discussed the possibility of preparing a Welfare Power of Attorney, giving someone she trusted legal authority to make such decisions for her in circumstances where she were unable to do so herself. Such an attorney could be given guidance as to her wishes and in those circumstances would stand in her shoes and speak for her.
Unfortunately, there was no-one of her acquaintance that she wished to burden with those decisions. Accordingly we discussed her specific wishes and I prepared an Advance Decision for her. She took this to her GP, discussed matters with him, explained her thoughts and feelings and obtained his advice. I was then able to complete the document for her, which she duly signed and her signature was witnessed. A copy of the signed Advance Decision was lodged with her GP so that this is now on her medical records and can be taken into account should the need arise.
Florence will need to reconsider the document every three years or so. If her decisions remain the same, she will need to re-affirm them by signing and dating the document once more in front of witnesses and lodge a copy of the re-affirmed document with her GP. If this action is not taken, it is quite possible that health professionals might decide that her Advance Decision was not current and that it could therefore be ignored.
Westbury Wills is a member of the
Society of Will Writers