A recent Court of Protection hearing concerning the treatment of an elderly man, who is in a minimally conscious state, has highlighted the need for people to make living wills in order to set out their wishes in the event of seriously incapacitating illness.
The Judge, Mr. Justice Francis stated that it should be compulsory that we all make Living Wills, as it would resolve cases where a sick or elderly person no longer has the physical or mental capacity to make their own decisions.
The phrase ‘Living Will’ may be used on a regular basis but it is not actually a legally recognised term. Should you want to specify the types of treatments that you may or may not want at the end of your life then you need to consider an advance decision, which will be legally binding as long as it complies with the Mental Capacity Act.
It is often a subject that many people do not like to address, but if you do go on to suffer from a terminal or progressive illness, then this can clearly express your decisions, thereby helping the doctors that are treating you and also supporting your family in a difficult time.
You may also want to express more general wishes, in which case you can make an advance statement, describing your wishes and preferences about future care should you be unable to make or communicate a decision or express your preferences at the time. You may want it to reflect your religious or other beliefs and important aspects of your life. You can include things such as food and drink preferences; type of clothes you like to wear; music, TV or DVD preferences or whether you like a bath to a shower. You can say who you would like to visit you or be consulted about your care. It is important to write such information down, so people can refer to it if they want to know what is important to you and what you like.
You should state you have an advance statement or advance decision when creating a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care decisions, so your attorney(s) take it into account when deciding what is in your ‘best interests’.
We have a wide experience and knowledge of looking after vulnerable clients, our team of talented legal experts can offer advice on the future and guide you in helping your express your wishes clearly.
Our Dispute Resolution team can also help if you have not taken the necessary steps to plan for the future and you and your family need advice on mediation in the courts of protection.