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Guide to Lasting Power of Attorney

Life Sustaining Treatment 

Life-sustaining treatment (health and care LPA only)

You have two options:

Option A – I give my attorneys authority to give or refuse consent to life-sustaining treatment on my behalf.

''If you sign option A and ever need life-sustaining treatment but can’t make decisions, your attorneys can speak to doctors on your behalf as if they were you. You can write instructions or preferences.''

Option B – I do not give my attorneys authority to give or refuse consent to life-sustaining treatment on my behalf.

''If you choose option B, doctors will make decisions about life-sustaining treatment."


What is Life-sustaining treatment:


‘Life-sustaining treatment’ means care, surgery, medicine or other help from doctors that’s needed to keep someone alive.

Life-sustaining treatment can include:

• a serious operation, such as heart bypass surgery

• chemotherapy, radiotherapy or another cancer treatment

• an organ transplants

• artificial nutrition or hydration (food or water given other than by mouth).

Whether some treatments are life-sustaining depends on the situation. For example, if someone had pneumonia, a course of antibiotics could be life-sustaining.


Decisions about life-sustaining treatment can be needed in unexpected circumstances. One example is a routine operation that didn’t go as planned.

Option A

Choose option A if you want your attorneys to decide about life-sustaining treatment in case you ever can’t make the decisions yourself.
Life-sustaining treatment: preferences (optional)
We can also add some extra notes. For example, you might write something like: If I were in the last days of a terminal illness, I would only want treatments to make me comfortable. I wouldn’t want treatments to prolong my life or that meant I couldn’t die at home.
Attorneys should pay attention to your preferences, although they don’t have to follow them.
You don’t have to give any preferences for life-sustaining treatment – your attorneys can act without them.
Life-sustaining treatment: instructions (optional)
You can write instructions in section 7 of the LPA form to specify medical conditions where your attorneys must or must not consent to life-sustaining treatment on your behalf. For example, you might write something like:
My attorneys must not agree to life-sustaining treatment if I am in a persistent vegetative state.
You may feel that your attorneys understand you well enough and you don’t need to write instructions. Talk to them about what you want.
If you write instructions, your attorneys must follow them. You must be careful not to write anything that contradicts what you have said elsewhere in your LPA or requires your attorneys to break the law. If you do, it could make your LPA unworkable. If you want to write instructions but are uncertain, you may want to seek legal advice..
Just a note: You don’t have to give instructions about life-sustaining treatment.
Option B
Choose option B if you want your doctors to decide about life-sustaining treatment in case you can’t.
If the situation arises, they must:
• assess what’s in your best interests
• consider, where possible, the views of your attorneys and other people involved in your welfare
• take into account what you’ve said or written about life-sustaining treatment, including any guidance you’ve given in your LPA
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