Living Wills and Power of Attorney are legal documents that help people make healthcare and welfare decisions for themselves. As you are no doubt aware, we are all living longer lives than we used to. Unfortunately, as people grow older, they have a greater risk of having chronic illnesses. At Clarity Simplicity, we would like to provide some insights and helpful tools that can help you and your loved ones guarantee that their wishes are properly carried out in the event that they are diagnosed with cancer or another chronic illness.
How to Plan for Long-Term or End-of-Life Care
Given that we are living longer lives and are increasingly at risk of getting diseases such as cancer, it may become necessary to make decisions about the care and treatment we receive – or do not receive – in the future. When we are nearing the end of our lives, and we have lost the ability to make decisions for ourselves, there will be no one who has the right to refuse invasive treatment on our behalf unless we have a Living Will or a Power of Attorney.
If you are unable to communicate your wishes at the time of your death, a Living Will outlines the circumstances under which you would like to decline treatment. This entails outlining your wishes in a written statement and telling your family members of your intentions. This ensures that the medical team is fully aware of how you would like treatment to be carried out, or, alternatively, which therapies we would prefer not to have. It also guarantees that the medical staff are fully informed of your medical needs. It also specifies when you should be allowed to end your life or when a specific form of treatment should be administered.
Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for health care decisions
Having a Living Will relieves your family of the pressure of making difficult decisions on your health care directive in the event of your death. Due to the fact that you have already made those difficult decisions and put in place a document that outlines your wishes in black and white, it can assist to alleviate any feelings of guilt or ambiguity. In this case, your families may rest comfortably that it was your decision to forgo therapy, not theirs.
While Living Wills are not legally binding in Scotland, they are powerful evidence of your wishes and are more likely to be followed, especially in light of the fact that the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 states that the past wishes and feelings of an adult with incapacity should be taken into consideration when making medical care decisions.
Contact us if you have any questions concerning a Living Will, a Power of Attorney for Health Care or Welfare issues, or the process for preparing a Will.
What is an Advance Directive?
An Advance Directive is a document that is prepared while you have the legal capacity and can communicate and make decisions about your own welfare. It is prepared as an advance instruction to Doctors confirming the healthcare treatment/measures that you want to be taken/not taken, in the event that you are in poor health.
Why have an Advance Directive?
In Scotland, an adult with legal capacity has the right to make decisions, and provide opinions, on their medical treatment. This includes the right to refuse medical treatment. People can refuse medical treatment for a number of different reasons. Examples would be where a person does not consent to treatment because of religious beliefs however, it can also be used to direct Doctors as to whether you would want heroic measures to be taken in the event of a medical emergency. Examples of where you might wish to refuse treatment are: -
1. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops;
2. Being put on a ventilator if you cannot breathe on your own;
3. Being given food or fluids artificially;
4. Being given antibiotics where you are suffering from a life-threatening infection.
Being able to influence, or indeed refuse treatment, is dependent upon a person being able to communicate their wishes. In circumstances where a person has lost their legal capacity, they cannot communicate and accordingly, cannot influence or refuse their medical treatment. This gives rise to certain legal and practical difficulties and can impose certain pressures and stress on loved ones and family members who are ultimately left to guide the Doctors.
Having an Advance Directive can assist you to make informed decisions in your own time by considering all of your options. We would strongly advise speaking to a Doctor or Medical Practitioner. It gives direction to your loved ones as to your wishes. It will give peace of mind that your wishes are known about and documented.
What should you think about when making an Advance Directive?
In order to make an Advance Directive, you should think about situations in which you would want to refuse treatment. You should speak to your GP, Doctor, or others involved in your care such as a Consultant, District Nurse or Carer. Medical Practitioners will be able to assist in helping you understand treatments and the consequences of having those treatments. You should discuss the matters with those close to you.
Who should you make aware of the existence of an Advance Directive?
In order to ensure that your wishes are documented and respected, we would recommend that you discuss the Directive with your next-of-kin, your Attorney (Power of Attorney), your GP and any other individual that is involved in your case such as a Consultant, District Nurse or Carer.
Can an Advance Directive be changed?
We would recommend that you regularly review your Advance Directive. If you wish to make changes then you should destroy your previous Advance Directive and make your next-of-kin, your Attorney (Power of Attorney), your GP and any other individual that is involved in your case such as a Consultant, District Nurse or Carer, that you have created a new Advance Directive.
Do you require a solicitor?
Advance Directives are not legally binding however, they give a clear intention as to your wishes and accordingly, ought to be adhered to. An Advance Directive may become open to challenge where it is believed that you lacked capacity at the point where it was signed. Having a solicitor prepare, and witness, your Advance Directive will ensure your capacity at the time of signing. Power of Attorney & Guardianships in Scotland
Have you been asked to obtain Power of Attorney or Guardianship and need to know more? Is a relative or loved one suffering from a mental illness and you need to look after them and their finances? Are you dealing with an incapable Adult?
Clarity Simplicity Private Client
For a Free* consultation with our Power of Attorney and Guardianship lawyers based in Glasgow call us today on 0808 169 7318 or complete our online enquiry form and let us help you.