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A right to choose

An advance decision can be essential to ensuring a client's wishes are respected should they lose capacity, but close attention must be paid to detail if it is to be valid, advises Sofia Tayton

4 December 2014

Having recently been involved in the preparation of a precedent advance decision for my department, I have been prompted to consider these documents and the way
in which they are used. The fact that there is no set 'advance decision form' may put practitioners off recommending them to clients, but they do have a useful place and should be discussed alongside lasting powers of attorney and wills.

Advance decisions are all about the refusal of treatment. As mentally competent adults, we all have the right to refuse medical treatment, even if that refusal leads to injury or death. An advance decision allows us to plan ahead and set out a refusal of treatment to apply at a time when we may lack mental capacity to make the decision.

Some clients may still refer to advance decisions as 'living wills' or 'advance directives', and these documents, if prepared before the Mental Capacity Act 2005 came in to force, will need to be chec...

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