What is an Advance Decision and do I need one?
What can an Advance Decision be used for? How do you make one? Can an LPA override an Advance Decision?
This article outlines the key details concerning Advance Decisions to help you decide whether you need one.
An Advance Decision allows you to decide now to refuse a specific type of treatment should you need it at some point in the future.
This article provides a summary of the key questions relating to Advance Decisions to give you more understanding and decide if you need one.
What are Advance Decisions?
An Advance Decision allows you to make decisions now to refuse a specific type of treatment should you need it at some point in the future.
You may have religious or other views which render certain treatments against your values and beliefs.
What can Advance Decisions be used for?
Advance Decisions are useful in allowing you to make known your views now in a written document to your family, carers and healthcare professionals if you are unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself.
What can’t Advance Decisions be used for?
Whilst Advance Decisions can be used to refuse certain treatments, they cannot be used to request certain types of treatment. This is because, no one has the right to insist on a particular treatment.
Equally, whilst Advance Decisions can be used to refuse certain types of treatment, they cannot be used to ask or encourage someone to actively help you end your life as assisted suicide is illegal in England and Wales.
Who can make an Advance Decision?
You must be over 18 and have mental capacity to make such decisions.
What is the difference between an Advance Decision and a Living Will?
There is no difference between an Advance Decision and a Living Will. ‘Living Will’ is simply another term for Advance Decision.
Another term for Advance Decision is ‘an advance decision to refuse treatment’ (ADRT).
However, Advance Decisions must not be confused with Advance Statements.
Can you refuse life-sustaining treatment?
Life-sustaining treatment is any treatment that could potentially keep you alive under certain circumstances.
You can refuse such life-sustaining treatment in an Advance Decision. However, do note that, if you do use your Advance Decision to refuse life-sustaining treatment, then your Advance Decision will also need to be witnessed by a third party (as explained below).
Is an Advance Decision legally binding?
To be legally binding, your Advance Decision must be drafted and signed correctly, and apply to the situation you are in at the time the decision to administer treatment needs to be made.
You must also have the required mental capacity to make such decisions.
The following requirements must be satisfied to ensure your Advance Decision is legally binding:
• It must be in writing and signed by you.
If it is used to make decisions about refusing life-sustaining treatment, it also needs to:
• be signed by an independent witness (i.e. someone who has no interest in your estate), and
• contain a statement that you wish the Advance Decision to apply even if you might die as a result of such refusal.
Who should know about your Advance Decision?
Who sees your Advance Decision is your choice.
However, to be effective in an emergency, it is prudent to make your family, carers or health and social care professionals aware of the Advance Decision and where they can find it.
You can keep a copy in your medical records.
Does an Advance Decision need to be signed and witnessed?
If you are choosing to refuse life-sustaining, then the answer is yes.
As noted above, in such situations, your Advance Decision will need to be:
• written down,
• signed by you
• signed by an independent witness, and
• include a statement that the Advance Decision applies even if your life is at risk.
Can an LPA override an Advance Decision?
If you make a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) after making an Advance Decision your attorney will be able to override the terms of your Advance Decision provided you gave your attorneys the power to make the decision in question (for example, by choosing that they can make decisions about life-sustaining treatment), when you made the LPA.
How we can help you
Advance Decisions allow you to decide now to refuse certain treatments, including life-sustaining treatments, based on your own values and beliefs.
Alternatively, a Health and Welfare LPA gives the right to make such decisions to refuse treatment to your nominated attorneys, provided you give them this power in the LPA.
You can learn more about LPAs here.
If you are interested and want to know more about Advance Decisions and Living Wills, then please do feel free to get in touch with our friendly team of experts on 01865 507174 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.