By making a Living Will, or Advance Directives, as they are also known, a person can make a written statement, imposing certain restrictions and conditions on their medical treatment, in the event that they cannot make those decisions for themselves in the future. Such documents must be adhered to by medical staff.
In An NHS Trust v D, Mr D had fallen into a vegetative state, following a cardiac arrest in surgery. Prior to surgery, he had made a very articulate written statement which refused any procedure of an invasive nature that would merely extend a reduced quality of life.
Unfortunately, Mr D had not been aware of the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which requires that any advance decision to refuse life-sustaining treatment must be witnessed. The letter therefore had no legal effect and the court was asked to decide what was in Mr D’s best interests.
The case took nine months to come to court and, in the meantime, although Mr D’s wishes could not have been clearer, medical staff were unable to act on them, causing distress to the family.
Linder Myers has a specialist Court of Protection team that can assist you and provide advice with the preparation of Advance Directives and Health & Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney.