Loss Of Mental Capacity

Advance directives are useful in that they may be relied upon if at a future date you lose the powers of making decisions or communication.

They can save relatives and doctors much worry about what you would wish when agonising decisions have to be made and help them to achieve the correct decision.

An Advance directive clearly states a person’s decisions about what should happen to them if they should find themselves in a variety of situations, as set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which is fully in force from 1st October 2007. This might, for example, be a decision about having a life-saving operation or if you develop severe dementia.

Doctors are legally bound to respect the views expressed in an advance statement, as long as they believe the person was mentally competent when they wrote it.

In an Advance Directive, a person declares which medical procedures he or she wants and does not want to have performed when terminally ill. Generally, the Advance Directive applies only to comatose patients who can no longer communicate their wishes.

Do not confuse an Advance Directive with a Last Will and Testament. The Advance Directive only expresses your wishes concerning medical care. It cannot be used to determine who will inherit your property upon your death, to appoint an executor to administer your estate or to appoint a guardian for your minor children. These can only be accomplished with a Last Will and Testament.