Ways to plan ahead for your future care in Northern Ireland
There are several ways people can make plans in advance. Although we list several ways here, you don’t have to use them all. Many people find it helpful to start with the ones that are most relevant to them.
The web pages in this section are about the ways people can plan ahead if they live in Northern Ireland. We have other information about planning ahead in England and Wales, and in Scotland.
Making a will is the one way to make sure that your wishes are carried out after you die and that your family and friends are provided for in the way you want. A will includes who you would like your property, personal possessions and monies to go to after you die. It may also include who you’d like to look after any dependants you have and any specific funeral arrangements you want.
You can use a document known as an Advance Care Plan to write down your wishes for your care when you’re reaching the end of your life. It can include your choice about where you would like to be cared for, for example at home, in a hospital, care home or hospice. The document means those caring for you will know what you’d prefer, so they can plan your care according to your wishes, if this is possible. An Advance Care Plan is not legally binding, but it will be taken into account if you aren’t able to make decisions for yourself.
Enduring Power of AttorneyBack to top
Creating an Enduring Power of Attorney means putting in writing the name of someone you trust to make decisions about or manage your property and financial affairs. The person you name can make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so because you lack mental capacity (see below). You may lose mental capacity because of an accident, injury or serious illness.
Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document and needs to be registered.
Having mental capacity means that you’re able to understand the decision you’re making. You need to be able to remember and process any information that’s relevant to making the decision. You also need to be able to weigh up this information, make a decision and communicate it to your doctor or others caring for you.
When people are unwell, their mental capacity can change from time to time. Your health and social care team needs to be sure you have the mental capacity to make a decision about your treatment. If your doctor is concerned about your mental capacity, they may need to ask you some questions to help them assess it.
Advance Decisions to Refuse TreatmentBack to top
You can also prepare a document that records your decisions for any treatment you don’t want to have, should you ever become unable to let your doctors or family know yourself. This is known as an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment, but it may also be called an Advance Directive. An Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment is legally binding.
Organ and tissue donationBack to top
Some people choose to write down any wishes they have for organ and tissue donation or donating their body for medical research.
Your plans for after you dieBack to top
You may wish to be involved in planning your funeral. This can be helpful if you know how you would like your funeral to be carried out. You can also pay for your funeral in advance.