Helping primary care to support people with dementia

Advance decisions

March 5 2014

Advance decisions (also referred to as advance directives, advance statements and living wills)  ensure that your wishes are taken into account in the future.

Advance decisions are legally binding as long as they fulfil certain requirements, and this means that they must be followed by doctors and other medical professionals.

This factsheet published by the Alzheimer’s Society details these requirements so that you can ensure that any advance decision you make will be valid. It also provides practical advice and a form to help you to draft an advance decision.

Download Advance decisions and advance statements

Key points about advance decisions:

  • They are legally binding in England and Wales.
  • If the person still has capacity when requiring medical treatment then their word overrides anything in the directive or that their legal representative might say.
  • If a healthcare proxy is identified in the advance decision, the proxy’s role is to ensure the wishes of the person who has lost capacity are carried out according to the advance decision. They may not make other decisions about that person’s care.
  • The person’s family may not overrule the wishes of a person as detailed in an advance decision.
  • The Court of Protection may overrule it if there are concerns over validity.

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