Living Will or Lasting Power of Attorney -What is the Difference?
Many people do not understand the difference, and it is clear why!
A Living Will (often referred to as an Advance Decision or an Advance Directive) is a record of the decisions you have made about your health and care needs if you were to lose mental capacity.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) the power to make health and care decisions to other individuals you choose on your behalf if you were to lose mental capacity. These individuals are referred to as ‘attorneys’.
These are some common queries in relation to these documents:
Can I Have Both a Living Will and a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Yes, you can have both documents, however the order in which the documents are signed affects their validity. It is very important that you discuss with your advisor the following:
- What do you want achieve ?
- How much discretion do you want your family and medical professionals to have?
- What are the implications of creating both documents?
Why Have a Living Will?
There are many reasons why you may want to create a Living Will:
- To think about the future
- To give you peace of mind about your health and care needs
- If you hold strong views about a health situation
- If you have a life-limiting illness and want to ensure your wishes are met
- To record your views on life-sustaining treatment
If I Have a Living Will, Why Also Bother With a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Living Will records your wishes only about medical treatment.
A Lasting Power of Attorney records your wishes as to medical treatment, but also records other welfare matters, such as where you live, what you wear and other general welfare needs. But the LPA appoints attorneys to make these decisions for you. An LPA also puts the attorneys in a position where they can complain about the health or welfare treatment you are receiving.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?
If you have a Living Will and your views about life-sustaining treatment change or there are developments in health care treatment, the Living Will is still valid and its terms will be implemented even if your views later change and you have not had the opportunity to change the document.
With an LPA, you can voice your preferences to your attorneys. If these change over time then your attorneys will be able to decide what your wishes were based on past instructions and the current developments.
However, if you give power to your attorneys in a Lasting Power of Attorney to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment, then you do lose an element of control, as your attorney can make the decision about life-sustaining treatment. With a Living Will, you are still in control.
No one wants to think about losing mental capacity, but thinking about it now provides reassurance that your wishes will be adhered to.
For more information or to make an appointment, call our expert solicitor on 0191 466 1444 or complete our free enquiry form
Geoffrey Lurie Solicitors your local solicitors Gosforth Newcastle