The thought of losing control of your ability to make healthcare decisions for yourself can be a worry. Making advanced decisions about your future healthcare is one option. This can be achieved through a Living Will or you can complete a health & welfare Lasting Power of Attorney.
If you want to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or a Living Will our specialist LPA team at Solomons Solicitors can advise you on your options and help prepare the paperwork for you.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
What is a Living Will?
You may hear a Living Will referred to as an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment. A Living Will enables you to set out your instructions for your future healthcare. For example, you can use a Living Will to tell doctors the circumstances in which you do not want to be resuscitated or to state if you do not want to undergo specific procedures (such as incubation) or to take named medication.
Is a Living Will binding?
If you are unable to say what treatment you want your Living Will is legally binding on medical professionals. They are duty-bound to follow your instructions in your Living Will. If you sign a document called a statement of preferences, or if you have an advanced care plan in place, these documents are not legally binding on health professionals.
The difference between a Living Will and a health & welfare LPA
A health & welfare Lasting Power of Attorney covers the full range of welfare and health-related issues unless you limit its scope. The LPA gives your nominated attorneys the authority to make health and welfare decisions on your behalf. The attorneys can only make health and welfare decisions for you if you have lost the capacity to make decisions on your behalf. The attorneys must act in your best interests and will base their decisions on your known wishes and the latest medical advances and available treatment options.
With a Living Will, you are setting out in advance your treatment preferences. Health professionals will follow the instructions in your Living Will if you are unable to tell them your preferences at the time of the medical treatment.
The advantages of a health & welfare LPA
An LPA gives authority for making health and welfare decisions to named trusted individuals. With a Living Will, a doctor will follow the instructions in the Will. Accordingly, a Living Will needs to be updated if your views change on the types of medical treatment or intervention you want to receive.
A Living Will focuses on medical treatment whilst a health and welfare LPA also covers welfare decisions. For example, if you are diagnosed with dementia and lose the capacity to make your own decisions on whether you should continue to live at home or the extent of your support needs.
A Living Will is not as flexible as a health & welfare LPA but you can choose to sign both documents to give you as much protection as possible. However, generally it is more practicable to fully include your instructions in an LPA.
Reviewing your Living Will or LPA
If you decide to ask an LPA solicitor to prepare a Living Will and/or a health & welfare LPA it is important to review the documents to make sure that they still reflect your wishes. A good time to review these documents is when you are reviewing your Will or your insurance needs or if there has been a change in your circumstances. For example:
- You may want to review your Living Will to take into account a recent medical diagnosis or healthcare advances.
- You may want to change the attorneys named in your LPA. This may be due to a separation or divorce from a named attorney or the death or incapacity of an attorney.
Our solicitors can help you make a Living Will and a health & welfare LPA to give you some peace of mind and to ensure that health professionals and your loved ones can act in your best interests.
Speak to our Bournemouth-based Will Solicitors today
Solomons Solicitors can help you with all your Will, LPA, and estate planning needs making sure you understand your options and you have the legal paperwork you need to provide peace of mind.