Information about Lasting Power of Attorney’s and Advanced Decisions
When you complete a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare you will be asked whether or not you would like your attorneys to be able to give or refuse consent to life sustaining treatment on your behalf.
Life sustaining treatment is any form of treatment, surgery or medication required to keep you alive. These decisions are usually made when a condition worsens or a serious accident occurs.
This is the most serious decision your attorneys could make, and the Lasting Power of Attorney requires you to make a positive decision on whether or not you wish your attorney(s) to have this authority.
If you do not give your attorneys this authority, your family’s wishes would normally be taken into account but the final decision would be made by the doctor responsible for your care.
When an attorney makes a decision to give or refuse consent to life sustaining treatment, they have to make the decision in your best interests following the statutory principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2004. Attorneys can also be guided by the preferences and instructions in the Lasting Power of Attorney document.
Preferences are statements of wishes for your attorneys to consider. Although not legally binding, they provide helpful guidance for your attorneys. Instructions are legally binding statements that your attorneys must follow when acting on your behalf.
Therefore you can give your attorneys guidance by, for example, informing them of the specific situations where they must not consent to life sustaining treatment. It can also set out your views so that they would be taken into account when your attorneys make this decision.
However, the Lasting Power of Attorney cannot give your attorneys the power to demand a specific course of medical treatment that your healthcare professionals do not believe would be necessary or appropriate for your condition.
You can also draft an Advanced Decision where you can, for example state the medical treatments and circumstances where you wish to refuse treatment. This can be done as an alternative to or a supplemental document to a full Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. An Advanced Decision has to be drafted with care, signed and witnessed and regularly reviewed.
An Advanced Decision can be advantageous for those who want to make legally binding advanced instructions on end of life care, but do not want to give their attorneys the power to give or refuse consent.
If you need advice on making a Lasting Power of Attorney or an Advanced Decision please contact us on 01992 422128.