End of Life Care: How to Plan Ahead

Why is the way we talk about end of life care so important?

Open and honest conversations about dying and death are vital for ensuring good end of life care. It can help your loved ones get an understanding of your wishes, so they’ll be able to communicate your preferences to healthcare professionals if you’re ever unable to.

Talking about end of life care isn’t easy. But it can help to have some key points ready to start the conversation. These could include:

  • Any medical treatments you’d like to refuse
  • The type of end of life care you’d like to receive
  • Where you’d like to receive end of life care
  • Whether you’d want to be resuscitated if you stopped breathing

If you want to simplify your end of life plan, setting up a lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows you to give someone the power to make decisions about your healthcare if you lose the ability to.

You could also record your wishes in a ReSPECT form, or even consider making a living Will. These options will help to make it easier for your loved ones to act in your best interest when the time comes.

Setting up a health and welfare LPA

A health and welfare LPA allows you to appoint an attorney who will communicate your preferences to medical professionals when you’re no longer able to.

Whoever you choose to act as attorney will be responsible for making decisions around your care and treatment. So it’s important that you appoint someone you trust completely. This could be a solicitor, family member or friend. But they must be over 18 years old.

Often, people will make the mistake of waiting until an LPA is needed to start the process. But we would always suggest setting up an LPA sooner rather than later, as the document will only be legally binding if you had mental capacity at the time it was put in place.

You should also speak to your chosen attorney about your wishes while you’re still relatively well. This will help to ensure that the care and medical treatment you receive is in line with your preferences.

How a living Will can help to ease the burden on loved ones

A living Will is a statement that sets out the type of medical treatment you’d like to receive if you lose mental capacity or the ability to communicate in the future.

Unlike a ReSPECT form – which makes recommendations for your clinical care – a living Will is legally binding. But it is not the same as a Last Will and Testament, so it won’t affect your estate – including property, savings and belongings – in any way.

You can make a living Will at any time, as long as you’re over 18. It’s not uncommon for people to write a living Will after receiving a serious diagnosis, but it’s always best to start the process while you’re still in good health.

A living Will can be as detailed or as generic as you like. But it’s worth noting that you can’t use a living Will to request specific treatments, or to refuse basic care and comfort. You also won’t be able to request euthanasia (which is illegal in the UK) or a specific carer.

We would always suggest speaking to your GP before writing a living Will. They’ll be able to explain what could happen if certain treatments are refused, so you’ll be fully informed before making any important decisions.

For a living Will to be effective, it will need to be shared with family, friends, your carer (if you have one) and your GP surgery. You should also review the document regularly to make sure it still reflects your wishes.

How a solicitor could help you

Planning for end of life care can feel daunting. So it helps to have a legal expert by your side.

Whether you’d like to make a living Will or set up a health and welfare LPA, our experienced solicitors are here to help you. They’ll speak to you about your situation and advise you on the best way forward.

To find out more about how we can support you, start your online enquiry today.

Note: First4Lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances.


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