As a nation we are increasingly aware of the problems of an ageing population. This is particularly so with respect to what happens to us if we’re not able to make decisions for ourselves. Living Wills and Powers of Attorney are two solutions to this issue.
What’s the difference between Powers of Attorney and a Living Will?
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) come in two different types - property and financial affairs and health and welfare. A Living Will relates purely to healthcare and medical treatment. The main difference between a Living Will and a health and welfare LPA is that a Living Will specifically sets out the wishes of the individual concerned. The LPA, on the other hand, delegates the responsibility for making the decisions to another person.
Making a Living Will
A Living Will gives you the opportunity to set out how you want to be treated in certain medical situations if you don’t have the capacity to make decisions for yourself. For example, you can declare that you don’t want to have any life prolonging treatment if you suffer brain damage or have a terminal illness. You may have specific reasons for refusing something like a blood transfusion or you might want to put in writing the kind of care that you want to receive if you develop a condition such as dementia. If you decide to make a Living Will it will contain two main parts:
- An advance statement of wishes – what you want or don’t want and what will make you comfortable.
- An advance decision to refuse treatment – this part of the Living Will is legally binding and if you’ve made an advance decision to refuse treatment then your family or friends must follow it.
Making a health and welfare LPA
The health and welfare LPA must be registered with the Court of Protection. It will only come into effect if you lose the mental capacity to make decisions about your healthcare yourself. With an LPA you will appoint an attorney to make those decisions on your behalf. Like the Living Will this also allows you to decide whether you would like your attorney to make life-sustaining decisions on your behalf of whether you’d like to refuse this in advance. An attorney appointed under a health and welfare LPA can make decisions about:
- Where you should be cared for
- The medical treatment you receive
- The type of care that you get
- Features of every day welfare, such as what you eat and how you’re dressed
Living Will vs. LPA
Although both the Living Will and the LPA are similar they actually have a very different impact when they come into effect. Many people choose to make both a Living Will and an LPA but you may find that you’re more comfortable with one or the other.
If you would like advice and guidance on which one will work best for you contact us on 01524 386500.