Advance Directives (sometimes known as a "Living Will") is a document by which you may give directives as to your wishes in terms of health care in the eventuality that you lose the mental capacity to make those decisions for yourself.
In order to be a valid Advance Directive the creator:
- must have been aged over 18 years at the date the document was made and to possess mental capacity
- must not have expressly withdrawn the Advance Directive since it was made - or have taken any step clearly inconsistent with the directive which might be deemed to revoke it by implication
The grant of a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney after the date of the Advance Directive which gives the Attorney the authority to give or refuse consent to medical treatment will operate to revoke the Advance Directive.
An Advance Directive should be in writing, signed by the person giving the directive in the presence of an independent witness who should also sign the document.
Advance Directives once executed should be sent to your medical adviser and it is sensible to provide a copy to someone who is close to you - to ensure that it is not overlooked - perhaps if you are unexpectedly admitted to hospital. Once a healthcare professional becomes aware of an Advance Directive failure to comply with it may amount to civil or even criminal assault.
One difficulty with Advance Directives is that it is not always easy to predict with certainty what future circumstances may prevail. However, with public concerns mounting about end of life medical care [for example the Liverpool Care Pathway] we anticipate that Advance Directives will have a growing role to play.
We are able to accept appointment as professional trustees – or to assist in the efficient administration/compliance issues for trustees (investment/accounting/taxation/legal).