Most people associate the use of Wills as only having an impact on the passing of the individual in question, however this is not the case. Many people are unaware of the use of ‘Living Wills’ (sometimes known as advance decisions) and also the use of advance statements.
A person lacks mental capacity if they are unable to make decisions, or communicate their wishes because of an impairment or a disturbance in the brain or mind. Lacking capacity can be temporary or permanent and can occur as a result of an accident or an illness. In this situation a doctor or health care professional would be obliged to act in your ‘best interests’ with regards to the medical treatment that you should then receive. However, a doctor’s opinion of what is in your best interests could be completely different to what you, at a time of having capacity, would feel is in your best interests.
Living Wills allow you to plan ahead and make decisions now about any future medical treatment that you may want to refuse. Living Wills are legally binding documents and medical professionals will be bound to follow your wishes. Advance statements (as Living Wills are sometimes also called) enable you to make statements in general about your beliefs and views, such as future care options and the type of care and support you wish to receive, as opposed to planning the refusal of certain treatments. These statements ensure that your beliefs and values will be taken into account at a later date, should this be needed.
Alternatively you are also able to create a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney and appoint someone whom you believe will act upon your best interests in accordance with the wishes you express in the Power.
If you believe that is something that you would like to discuss or create, please get in touch in order to discuss your options. If you need any assistance please contact Mary Skellam or Ian Wessels.