When you are ill, you will generally discuss your treatment options with a doctor and decide how you want to proceed. However, what if you are struck with an illness which means you are not able to communicate or make decisions for yourself? How would you want to be treated?
If you lose mental capacity, your doctors are generally obliged to act in your best interests. However, it is possible to make a Living Will in advance to direct your doctors that you wish to be treated in a particular way.
The term ‘Living Will’ actually refers to two different documents;
An advanced statement is a general statement of your preferences for treatment and care. Your doctors are not legally obliged to follow the advanced statement, but they must consider it when deciding what is in your best interests.
The advanced statement can include preferences which do not strictly relate to your medical treatment. For example, it could specify that you wish to be treated in accordance with your religious preferences or that you wish to follow a vegetarian diet.
It is possible to incorporate an advanced statement into a Lasting Power of Attorney. If you lose capacity, your Health and Welfare attorney must consider your advanced statement when making decisions on your behalf.
If drawn up correctly, an advanced decision to refuse treatment is legally binding upon your doctors and carers, even if the decision refuses life sustaining treatment.
For example you may feel an advanced decision is appropriate where you have been diagnosed with dementia or a terminal illness. It is also possible to prepare an advanced decision on religious grounds. For example, if you do not wish to receive blood transfusions under any circumstances.
How to prepare a Living Will
It is possible to prepare a Living Will without the advice of a professional. However, for an advanced decision to refuse treatment to be valid, certain legal requirements need to be met or the document could be invalidated. To avoid that risk and to offer peace of mind, Applebys can prepare Living Wills for you.
Contact Applebys today for free advice and a no-obligation quotation.