The full name of an Advance Decision is an Advance Decision to Refuse Consent to Medical Treatment and it is a legal document that enables you to set out in advance what medical treatment you would or would not wish to receive, if you are ever in a position where you are unable to make that decision at the time.
They used to be known as Living Wills.
Advance Decisions cannot be used to appoint other people to make those decisions on your behalf. If you wish to do that, then you will need to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (for health and welfare). You should make one or the other as, if you make both, the later one will replace the earlier one.
What must I include in my Advance Decision?
The wording that you put into an Advance Decision must show that you have thought about the possibility of being in a situation where you may need medical treatment but are unable to communicate your wishes at that time.
You must show that you have carefully considered what type of situation you may find yourself in and what type of medical treatment might be available to you.
You then need to set out what type of treatment you would be happy to receive in those circumstances and what type of treatment you would not want to receive.
Do I need to get a medical opinion?
As with making Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and other legal documents, you must be mentally capable of understanding what you are doing for the document to be valid. However, you do not have to involve a medical practitioner in the process of making an Advance Decision.
We would always recommend that you inform your GP that you have made an Advance Decision. One way of doing this would be for you to ask if he or she would be happy to act as your witness when you sign the document. They do not need to do this though, for the document to be valid.
We would also recommend that you provide a copy of your Advance Decision for your GP to keep with your medical notes as well as inform all those closest to you that you have made one.
How do you make an Advance Decision?
As with a lot of legal documents, you can make an Advance Decision yourself but, to ensure that it is made correctly and will therefore be valid, we advise that you should instruct a solicitor, who will talk through the process with you.
At Onions & Davies, we have many years’ experience of making Advance Decisions and the type of wording that will be accepted when the time comes for them to be used. We would be happy to help you.
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This information refers to the law of England & Wales only, which from time to time changes. In particular, tax information changes annually. It is not a substitute for professional advice, which is up to date and specific to your needs. This information is a summary of the provisions relating to advance decisions and cannot cover every aspect of their operation. It represents our understanding of current legislation in England and Wales but should not be relied upon as an authoritative statement of law nor as constituting advice. We would advise that legal advice be sought in every circumstance.