It can be very difficult for people to have conversations with loved ones about their wishes in the event that they lost capacity, and what their wishes would be in respect of medical treatment. Alternatively, some people are able to have conversations about what they would like to happen, but any wishes made during these conversations will not necessarily be carried out as they could easily be misinterpreted or forgotten by family and friends and they are not recorded anywhere.
If you have capacity, you can refuse medical treatment. The issue arises in relation to when you do not have capacity. Creating an Advance Medical Directive, which is also known as a Living Will, instructs your doctors and loved ones in relation to medical treatment you are willing to accept or not willing to accept should you be in position where you are no longer able to communicate your choices to your doctor, for example, if you are in a catastrophic accident.
An Advance Medical Directive can refuse medical treatment in the following circumstances:
- You suffer from one or more serious conditions, such as severe and lasting brain damage, advanced degenerative disease of the nervous system (e.g. advanced Parkinson’s Disease) or severe immune deficiency;
- You are unable to make decisions for yourself in relation to your healthcare; and
- Two independent doctors have determined that you are unlikely to make a recovery.
In such circumstances, you may direct that you do not wish to receive any medical treatments aimed at prolonging or sustaining your life, such as life support systems.
How do I create an Advance Medical Directive?
Our Solicitors keep the process simple and straight forward. We will send you a questionnaire for completion and return to us or we can go over the questionnaire via telephone with you to obtain the information we require. Once our solicitors have the required information we will draft your Advance Medical Directive.
Once your draft Advance Medical Directive is approved by you, we can arrange for the document to be signed. The Advance Medical Directive requires to be signed and witnessed. A copy of the completed document should be sent to your GP and your Welfare Attorney.
It is also very important that loved ones are made aware of the Advance Medical Directive. If loved ones and medical staff are aware of its existence, then your wishes can be respected. The Advance Medical Directive could reduce the distress of loved ones in making the critical decisions in relation to your care, and seek to avoid disagreements.
Tragic stories have previously been reported in circumstances where individuals have been kept alive against their wishes. Click here for further information.
I have a Welfare Power of Attorney, do I need an Advance Medical Directive?
With a Welfare Power of Attorney you appoint a person to make decisions about your health and wellbeing, including medical decisions, in the event that you are no longer able to make such decisions yourself. Your Welfare Attorney has a duty to act in your best interests at all times and to take into account your past and present wishes. Therefore, whilst your Welfare Attorney has wide-reaching powers, including consenting or withholding consent to medical treatment, an Advance Medical Directive can be a source of moral and legal comfort to them when making such decisions. If you have an Advance Medical Directive, your Welfare Attorney can act in the satisfaction that you have considered carefully what you would want to happen in certain circumstances and have made a decision and expressed that choice in a written statement. Your doctor will also be aware of your wishes in advance of any condition compromising your capacity, as a copy of your completed Advance Medical Directive is lodged with your GP.
We therefore recommend that clients have an Advance Medical Directive as a Welfare Power of Attorney, so the Advance Medical Directive can act as guidance to your Welfare Attorney and your medical team and your Welfare Attorney can be satisfied that they are acting in accordance with your expressed wishes.
Can I Update my Advance Medical Directive?
You can change or revoke your Advance Medical Directive at any time whilst you have capacity. We would recommend that you review your Advance Medical Directive every few years, or in the event that there are changes to your health. This will allow health practitioners and loved ones to be reassured that the document reflects your up-to-date wishes. If you wish to amend your Directive, you should prepare a new Directive, notify your medical practitioners and loved ones, and then destroy the previous version. If you wish to revoke your Directive, you should advise your medical practitioners and loved ones that you wish to revoke the document, then destroy the Directive in place.
How Much Does a Living Will Cost?
Our solicitors keep costs to a minimum, a Living Will costs £250 plus VAT for an individual or £400 plus VAT for a couple.