November 8, 2023
Planning for your future care involves several essential legal documents, two of which are the Advanced Decision and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). These tools empower individuals to make critical decisions about their healthcare, ensuring that their wishes are respected, even when they might not be able to express them directly. In this article, we’ll explore what an Advanced Decision is, how it interacts with LPA, and why they are important in the context of healthcare and end-of-life choices.
An Advanced Decision, often referred to as a “Living Will,” is a legal document that allows an individual to specify the medical treatments they do not want to receive in the future, should they become unable to communicate their preferences. It’s a way to ensure your voice is heard when you cannot speak for yourself. Advanced Decisions can cover a range of healthcare decisions, including life-sustaining treatments, such as resuscitation or artificial nutrition and hydration.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is another crucial legal document that authorities someone you trust, known as an attorney, to make decisions on your behalf when you’re unable to do so. There are two types of LPAs in the UK: one for health and welfare and another for property and financial affairs.
The relationship between an Advanced Decision and LPA is important to understand. If you have both documents, the key distinction lies in the decision-making hierarchy:
1. **Advanced Decision**: Your Advanced Decision takes precedence over your LPA when it comes to decisions regarding healthcare and medical treatment. This means that even if you have appointed an attorney in your LPA for health and welfare, your clearly stated preferences in the Advanced Decision will be followed. It provides a legal shield to ensure your specific medical wishes are honored.
2. **Lasting Power of Attorney**: An LPA for health and welfare allows your attorney to make decisions about your care and treatment, but only in situations where your Advanced Decision does not apply or for decisions not covered by it.
It’s important to ensure that both documents work together seamlessly to safeguard your interests, as your attorney in the LPA can address healthcare matters that are not addressed in your Advanced Decision.
The significance of Advanced Decisions and Lasting Power of Attorney documents cannot be overstated. They provide individuals with the peace of mind that their preferences regarding their healthcare and end-of-life decisions will be respected, no matter what the future holds. Additionally, these documents can help prevent disputes among family members and healthcare professionals, reducing the emotional burden during already challenging times.
In conclusion, Advanced Decisions and Lasting Power of Attorney documents are indispensable in taking control of your healthcare choices and protecting your interests in the UK. By understanding their roles and how they interact, you can make informed decisions about your future care, ensuring that your wishes are respected when you need it most.