A man went into a coma after a long term illness and while he had Enduring Powers of Attorney as to his Personal Care and Welfare in place that appointed his partner as his Attorney, his partner was obliged, by the terms of the document, to consult with wider family members as to any significant decisions.

This led to a family disagreement over whether the man should be taken off life support.  It was a difficult decision and the emotional stress was splitting the family into two camps.

This situation could have been avoided if the man had put a “Living Will” in place (alongside his Enduring Power of Attorney).  This is a document that records your wishes for your healthcare, to cover situations when you are not able to make these known to medical staff yourself.  These documents are also sometimes called advance directives.

It may record, for example, that you do not want to have medication that will prolong your life, but that you have only enough sustenance and medication to keep you comfortable.

These directions for your care (sometimes end of life care) may be recorded in a document called a “Living Will”.

Your Living Will not only gives you peace of mind and clear directions to medical staff, but it also gives clarity to your wider family as to your wishes.  It helps to keep families from becoming fractured when important decisions that have an emotional impact must be made on your behalf.

If you have particular wishes for how your care is managed, we highly recommend you get in touch with your legal advisor to put a “Living Will” in place.



Therese Greenlees
Registered Legal Executive
Wellington