Differences between Living Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney?

To understand a Living Will more fully, perhaps it’s alternate name of Advance Medical Directive explains its purpose better. It is in broad terms, your direction whilst alive and “of sound mind”, that you wish for no medical intervention in the event of you developing specific terminal conditions*. By raising and registering a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare, which also has to be done whilst you are alive and “of sound mind”, and importantly by signing the consent box (A)  on page 6 of the document, you are giving your appointed Attorney(s) the right to make such a decision on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so (perhaps because you are unable to speak or have lost mental capacity). So, the two documents are VERY different.

Living Wills are, since the Mental Capacity Act of 2005, considered a legal instrument. That is to say, that as such, any medical practitioner must adhere to its direction. Since any direction within it is your own and provided there is no challenge as to your state of mind at the time of making and signing it, your directions will be followed.

Lasting Powers of Attorney for Health and Welfare are also legal instruments, but within this, if you have signed in Box A, you will have given your Attorneys the right to make decisions on your behalf about life-sustaining treatment should it be required.

Therefore, if it is YOU and YOU ALONE who wish to make such decisions, you need a Living Will and you need to sign at Box B on any Power of Attorney, thereby removing that decision from your chosen Attorneys.

However, your personal circumstances may be much more complex than described above, and further consideration may need to be taken in to account. If this is the case, please ask for a consultation at which all options available to you can be discussed.

* There are several types of Living Wills available which specify differing conditions under which you wish medical intervention or not. Please ask for further details.