Life is unpredictable and preparing for every eventuality can be tricky but with the guidance of a good solicitor you can choose the best option for you and your family. With an aging population in the UK, it’s clear more people are not only living longer, but living with ailments that may impair their ability to make decisions about their living circumstances and healthcare choices. So what are their options?
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will sets out a person’s wishes in relation to their end of life care and allows them to put advanced decisions, or advance directives, in place in circumstances where they have become seriously ill or incapacitated and they are unable to make or communicate such decisions themselves. They are often prepared for people with long term, degenerative or terminal illnesses, but in fact anyone can draw up a Living Will whenever they like.
The benefit of a valid Living Will is it reduces the burden on your loved ones to make difficult decisions at times which are distressing and upsetting for all concerned.
By making a Living Will you are in control and you can specify your wishes in relation to:
What is a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
An LPA for Health and Welfare allows a person to appoint attorneys to make decisions regarding their health and welfare when they no longer have the mental capacity to make such decisions themselves. These include decisions regarding the sort of healthcare you require, moving to a residential care home, as well as day-to-day issues such as your diet and dress. You can also allow the attorney(s) the authority to consent or refuse life sustaining treatment.
It’s important to know that if you if you make an LPA giving someone the right to consent or refuse life sustaining treatment this will override any previous Living Will that is in place. Likewise, if you create the Living Will after the LPA then the Living Will, will override the LPA.
It is possible to have both however both should be clear and not conflicting. If you have very clearly defined wishes regarding treatment, then a Living Will is best. If you want to appoint a person to make decisions about your day to day welfare and care, then an LPA is the best. Both documents will allow you to have a say over how you are to be treated once you no longer have the mental capacity you once did to make those decisions yourself. Creating such documents provides guidance to relatives as to your wishes and can help to prevent family disputes over treatment or care.
The main difference is that a Living Will is a record of a decision you have made yourself, for use if you then lose mental capacity, whereas a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) appoints someone else to make those decisions for you if mental capacity is lost.
For more information on both contact the team at Barnstaple’s Samuels Solicitors on 01271343457
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