Lasting Power of Attorney and Living Wills – what are the main differences?

Posted Mar 25, 2019.

If you’ve made the important first step of writing a suitable Will to ensure that your estate is dealt with according to your wishes, what are your options when it comes to deciding between as Lasting Power of Attorney (otherwise referred to as an ‘LPA’) or a Living Will, and what are the key differences?

LPA’s and Living Wills (also known as an Advance Decision) are both similar legal arrangements, but they both differ in certain functions and areas of law. Which option is most appropriate will very much depend on individual circumstances, so It is important that you fully understand which is best for you.  The Mental Capacity Act 2005 gives individuals the option of an LPA or an Advance Decision to help them plan for future medical treatment. 

Lasting Power of Attorney

There are two types of LPA’s that an individual can arrange, depending on their particular circumstances and requirements – Property and Financial Affairs LPA’s and Health and Welfare LPA’s. A Health and Welfare LPA allows an individual to appoint another person – known as an attorney – to make personal welfare and healthcare decisions and act on their behalf in the event that they lose the mental capacity to do so themselves. This power includes decisions regarding day-to-day care and the granting or refusal of consent for medical treatment. Should the individual subsequently put in place an Advance Decision, this would then take precedence over the powers granted under the LPA.

Living Wills / Advance Decision

With an Advance Decision, an individual can refuse specific future medical treatment if they have lost their capacity to give consent to such treatment at some point in the future. For example, an Advance Decision could for mean a refusal of a specific treatment such as a blood transfusion, meaning that this treatment (and any others specified) cannot be given lawfully. The biggest difference with an Advance Decision compared to an LPA is that the individual will decide for themselves any particular medical treatments that they wish to refuse in future. Should an individual subsequently put in place an LPA, then the authority granted in that LPA would take precedence over the original Advance Decision.

As well as choosing between the two approaches, there may be times when an individual’s wishes are best clarified by having an LPA that runs alongside what is called an Advance Statement. Advance Statements are similar, but different, to Advance Decisions, allowing an individual to be specific about treatment and care. Whilst not legally binding, it is normal for such wishes outlined in an Advanced Statement to be adhered to. 


Get professional advice

If you need help with probate, a will or a lasting power of attorney, Bakers Solicitors have friendly and approachable experts who are here to help. Call now on 

(01252) 744637  and speak to Simon, our Estate Planning Manager, or email