Ways to plan ahead for your future care in England and Wales

The web pages in this section are about the ways people can plan ahead if they live in England and Wales|. We have other information about planning ahead in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Although we list several ways to plan ahead 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.

Making a will

One example of how people make plans in advance is by making a will. A will is the only 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.

Lasting Power of Attorney

Another way is to create a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is when you put in writing the name of someone you trust to make decisions about or manage your property and affairs - for example your finances and legal affairs - and/or your personal welfare, which may include decisions about your health.

The person you name will make decisions on your behalf if you’re no longer able to do so. It’s a legal document and needs to be registered. It only comes into effect if you become unable to make decisions yourself.

Advance statement of your preferences

You can either tell people your wishes, or write them down. These will be your specific wishes about how and where you would like to be cared for if you ever become unwell or ill and need treatment. It’s a good idea to write down your wishes and keep them in a safe place.

These wishes are often referred to as an advance statement of your preferences. They are not legally binding - unlike an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (see below) - but would be taken into account if you lost capacity to make decisions for yourself. They can include your choice about where you would like to be cared for - for example at home, in a hospital, nursing home or a hospice.

Preferred Priorities for Care is an example of a document that you can use to help plan and record your preferences for your care when you’re reaching the end of your life. The document means those caring for you will know what your preferences are so that they can plan your care according to your wishes. 

Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment

You can also prepare a document that records your wishes for any treatment you don’t want to have, should you ever become unable to let your doctors or family know yourself. These are known as Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment| - previously known as a living will or advance directive.

Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment are legally binding if they meet certain requirements set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

An Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment may include your wish not to have your heart and lungs restarted (this is known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if you were to become seriously ill. This is often known as a do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) request|.

Organ and tissue donation

Some people choose to write down any wishes they have for organ and tissue donation| or donating their body for medical research.

Even if you have, or have had, a cancer diagnosis you may be able to donate some of your organs or tissue when you die. Some people may want to donate their body for medical research.

Funeral planning

You may wish to plan 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.