End of life planning is important, and now is a great time to look into it in more detail. Every year, Dying Matters host an Awareness Week in an attempt to remove the stigma around death, dying and grief. This year, Dying Matters Awareness Week will be taking place from 8-14 May.
Dying Matters is Hospice UK’s flagship campaign, working in partnership with communities across the UK to encourage people to talk about the inevitable event of death, bereavement, and plans for end of life. Dying Matters Awareness Week this year will be focusing on ‘Dying Matters in the workplace’.
Dying is often regarded as a difficult topic to discuss in the workplace. However, Dying Matters attempts to flag up how important and helpful it is to openly address the subject in hope of creating a supportive community. Death is an unavoidable topic. It is important to know what dying is and what it involves.
An aging workforce means employers will need to think about how to increase their employees’ understanding around dying by implementing tools to facilitate discussions around end-of-life planning. Having conversations regarding your wishes after your death or if you’re unable to make decisions for yourself in the future can reduce stress at a difficult time for your loved ones.
People of working age, as well as those who have retired, need to think about what would happen when they die. We address this through drafting bespoke Wills and putting in place documents that help with dealing with your affairs at end of life.
It is important to make a Will to ensure your assets pass to your loved ones as per your wishes. This also gives you the opportunity to express your funeral wishes, such as a preference for burial or cremation; and is the document which allows people with young children to appoint guardians.
Those with taxable estates can also use a tax efficient Will to mitigate their Inheritance Tax liability.
End of life planning
End of life planning allows you to legally document your wishes, including important decisions concerning how you are cared for in the final months of your life, the medical treatment you’d like to receive and any treatment you wish to refuse.
This is obviously relevant in later life, but is also relevant to younger people suffering from a life-limiting condition or terminal illness.
Living Wills / Advance decisions to refuse treatment
A “Living Will”, or an Advance Decision, is a legally binding directive made by a person who has capacity, about the extent and nature of medical treatment they would like to undergo should they lose capacity in the future. A “Living Will” would allow you to choose and explain which treatments you would like to receive or refuse the giving or continuing of specific medical treatment.
Advance statement of wishes
An Advance Statement allows you to document your wishes about your future care and medical treatment should you be unable to communicate your preferences at the relevant time.
It may reflect religious beliefs or any other important aspects of your life, including clothing preferences, food and drink preferences, music, TV and other entertainment preferences. You can also state whom you would like to be consulted about your care and who can visit you.
It is useful to document your wishes for people to refer to should they want to know what is important to you at the end of your life. This can make a difficult time and the process easier for your loved-ones, as the Advance Statement would re-assure them of whether your wishes have been followed.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
By creating a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) you can legally appoint a person(s) to make decisions regarding your health and care should you lose mental capacity.
You would appoint an attorney(s) to act on your behalf, who must abide by express limitations on their power(s) set out by you in the LPA e.g., permitting your attorney(s) to make decisions as to social care only, and not health care. You can also provide instructions to your attorney(s) in the LPA (such as, I do not want to be treated with radiotherapy). If your attorney(s) powers are not expressly restricted, then they may give or refuse consent to medical treatment as and when circumstances arise.
However, if the decision involves the refusal of life-sustaining treatment, your attorney(s) will need the express authority to make this decision on behalf of the donor. You must specify in your LPA whether you want your attorney(s) to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment should that become necessary.
If you have both an Advance Decision to refuse treatment and a Health & Welfare LPA, it is important to consider your preferences in each document to avoid confusion over your instructions. If you create a Health & Welfare LPA and an Advance Decision, whichever was made more recently takes priority in the event that they deal with the same decision.
How Blake Morgan can help
The Succession & Tax team at Blake Morgan are a team of specialists with extensive experience in drafting Wills and Living Wills, Advance Statements, and LPAs. We can support you through the process of your end-of-life planning, as well as providing expert legal advice and guidance on the appointment of attorney(s) and any limitations regarding the decisions your attorney(s) can make.
We can also advise on the specific instructions and preferences to include in your end-of-life planning so that people act in accordance with your wishes, and with a focus on your best interests.
You should review your Will if you have one and make one if not, plus take time to consider whom you should entrust your end of life decisions to and then ask us to put in place the best document to bring this about.
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