New website

You can view a new version of our website. You will still be able to go back to the current page.

Why plan ahead?

Planning ahead is a way to express who you are and what’s important to you in case you can’t make a decision for yourself. Recording your wishes gives you control over your future treatment and care and reassurance that the right decisions will be made.

Planning ahead can:

  • be a good way to start conversations with the people close to you about what you would want in the future
  • help you to make informed decisions in your own time by considering your options
  • give you peace of mind that you’ve taken steps to make sure your wishes are known about, recorded and respected

Consent and capacity

You have the right to make decisions about your treatment and care. You can decide if you want to consent to a treatment and you can also decide to refuse treatment, even if that treatment is necessary to save your life.

But, if you lack capacity to make a decision, the healthcare professional in charge of your care will decide how to treat you. They must make decisions based on what they think would be in your best interests, but there’s no guarantee that this would be the decision you would want.

Many people think that the people close to them will be able to make decisions about their care or treatment if they become unwell but this isn’t always the case. Even though these people must be consulted when a decision is made, they won’t have the legal right to make these decisions unless you’ve made a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare (LPA) or a Welfare Power of Attorney in Scotland.

How do I plan ahead?

If you live in England or Wales, there are three main ways that you can plan ahead and record your wishes for treatment and care. You can make:

You can do all three or you might feel that one is better for you than another.

If you live in Scotland, read our information about Advance Directives and Welfare Power of Attorney. We also have information about planning ahead in Northern Ireland.


More information

If you’re thinking about planning ahead, you may wish to read our booklet, Starting the conversation, which provides tips for talking to your doctor and loved ones about your wishes for treatment and care. We also have a booklet about planning ahead that’s written especially for the LGBT community.