An advance decision, sometimes referred to as a "living will" has been given authority by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Advance decisions may also be called an advance refusal and advance directive. It can be distinguished from a health and welfare lasting power of attorney, which in effect appoints a healthcare proxy to step into the patient's shoes to make decisions in the patient's best interests at a time when the patient lacks mental capacity.
Neither patients nor their relatives can demand specific treatment to be given. However, their views can be taken into account by treating healthcare professionals when they are making clinical judgments about potential and prospective treatment.
The purpose of an advance decision can be summarised briefly as a "right to choose".
There are many advantages of making an advance decision which can be summarised as follows:-
Healthcare professionals must follow an advance decision if it is valid and applies in the particular circumstances. If they do not, they could face criminal prosecution or civil liability.
It is possible to include directions about life-sustaining treatment and appropriate treatments for particular illnesses.
If you wish to consider generally treatment or your future care should you become mentally incapable, then the lasting power of attorney (health and welfare) would be more appropriate, although it is possible to have both provided they do not contradict each other.