What Legal Protection do you Have if you can’t Care for Yourself?

Making a decision regarding what’s right for your own well being can be a difficult task at the best of times, but the thought of being unable to make that decision owing to mental or physical incapacity is an altogether more worrying state of affairs.

If you are unable to care for yourself, there are a number of legally protective steps that you can take as a means of ensuring the correct decisions are made on your behalf, should you not be capable.

 Advanced directives

The British government specifies that every adult who is deemed mentally capable has the right to refuse or accept whatever medical treatment is prescribed by a healthcare professional. So there exists an advanced directive or living will: a set of instructions that you are able to dictate which describes your future wishes with regards to medical care.

If it is deemed that you ‘lack capacity’,  as defined by the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, your advanced directive – made when you are deemed mentally capable – takes precedence over any decisions that you make in your mentally deteriorated state. Advanced directives are invoked by a designated healthcare proxy, which you will appoint, who plays a role similar to that of the executor of a will.

Advanced directives allow you to make decisions regarding a wide range of treatment possibilities, and are increasingly being used by those suffering from terminal illnesses where one’s mental faculties are known to deteriorate.

The decisions covered by an advanced directive relate to: the use of intravenous fluids, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, life-saving treatments where brain functionality is inherently impaired (such as in the case of a stroke) and other specific procedures, such as blood transfusions.

 Untimely death

 If you are suffering from a long-term illness, or potentially fatal condition, making a will is an essential undertaking.

A will is the only legally binding means you have of ensuring that the beneficiaries of your estate are those who you intended them to be. A well-written will, made up by a reputable solicitor, such as those found at Co-operative Legal Services, enables you to give one final gift to your loved ones, at an extremely difficult time.

Failure to make a will, however, means that your estate will become subject to the rules of intestacy.

The rules of intestacy

 The rules of intestacy are very clear and well documented, strictly laying out the order of priority in which your family will inherit your estate. While this may be acceptable to some, the inherent, traditionalist nature of the rules means that cohabitants and friends have no legal claim to your estate.

If you wish the beneficiaries of your estate to be a friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, or even a charity, making a will is the only way of legally ensuring that your wishes are adhered to.

 Don’t leave it to chance

 If you’re currently in a state of ill-health, or your health is slowly deteriorating, the only means of ensuring that your desires are carried out is to contact a professional body, such as Co-operative Legal Services, to help you draft an advanced directive and/or will.

With these articles prepared, you can rest assured that you are legally protected if you reach a stage where you can’t care for yourself.






3 responses to “What Legal Protection do you Have if you can’t Care for Yourself?”

  1. In order to make their advance wishes clear, people can use a living will, which can include general statements about wishes, which are not legally binding, and specific refusals of treatment called ‘advanced decisions’ or ‘advanced directives’.

  2. this is a joke.. right?
    tax keeps going up and I just came from the office telling them
    I cant keep paying that tax so they lowerd the tax for me then they raise state and other tax again.
    peoples homes get forclosed. prices go up you cant afortd to eat the way you did befor
    you ware the same cloths for years because you cant afford new ones you have to
    save for properity and house tax.. and when it all comes to a head you end up
    living with other family members and bingo

    you are deemed as not able to care for yourself
    and off you go to a nursing home or a state hospital..

    got ant more jokes?

  3. If you have not made arrangements described earlier in this booklet and you should become incapacitated, New Jersey permits you or a third party to ask a court to appoint a conservator to handle your financial affairs. That person must be bonded so that if your assets are misappropriated, you would have recourse against the bonding company. Furthermore, you would not have to be judged incapacitated and lose your civil liberties; the court would have to determine only that because of advanced age, physical infirmity or illness, you are unable to handle your affairs. The law provides for payment to your conservator from your estate.