The Advance Decision

January 2, 2017


I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

W.E. Henley 1849 - 1903 


It is a general principle of law and medical practice that people have a right to consent to or refuse treatment. The courts have recognised that adults have the right to say in advance that they want to refuse treatment if they lose capacity in the future - even if this results in their death.


A valid and applicable advance decision to refuse treatment has the same force as a real time decision. This has been a fundamental principle of the common law for many years and it is now set out in the Mental Capacity Act. 


The Act sets out when a person can make their advance decision

  • the person is 18 years or older; and

  • they have the mental capacity to make an advance decision about treatment. 

Healthcare professionals must follow an advance decision if it is valid and applies to the particular circumstances. 


Advance decisions can have serious consequences for the people who make them. They can also have an important impact on family and friends, and professionals involved in their care. Before healthcare professionals can apply an advance decision, there must be proof that the decision:

  • exists

  • is valid, and 

  • is applicable to the person's current circumstances.

It is up to individuals to decide wether they want to refuse treatment in advance. They are entitled to do so if they want, but there is no obligation to do so. 


Another option is to make a Lasting Power of Attorney. This allows a trusted family member or friend to make personal welfare decisions, such as those around treatment, on someones behalf, and in their best interests if they ever lose capacity to make those decisions themselves. However nobody has the right to demand specific treatment. 


If you want to make an advance decision or Lasting Power of Attorney then contact Eagle Estate Planning on 07854 585 585 or by email 





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