An Advance Care Directive, also often called a “Living Will”, can be defined as a statement about the kind and extent of medical or surgical treatment you want in the future, on the assumption that you will not be able to make that decision at the relevant time.
There is a very clear article on the Citizens Information Bureau website about making Living Wills in Ireland.
Some summary information which is often of general interest is as follows:
- There is no legislation in Ireland which gives legal status to an Advance Care Directive (ACD)
- That said, an ACD can have the effect of withdrawing your consent to specific medical or surgical treatment. It is not possible to state with absolute certainty that such a directive would be enforced because this depends on exactly what it says and whether or not it addresses the precise circumstances you face.
- In some countries you can appoint someone to dictate your medical treatment in the event you can’t make such decisions yourself. This is not the case in Ireland, even if you appoint someone to have Enduring Power of Attorney, such power does not extent to medical treatment.
- There is no doubt that an ACD is not enforceable in Ireland if it specifies doing something which is illegal. For example, an advance directive stating that you want to be given medication which will hasten your death would not be enforceable.
- Furthermore, it is a criminal offence in Ireland to aid, abet, encourage or procure the suicide of another person. That crime is usually referred to as assisted suicide. The maximum penalty for assisted suicide is 14 years imprisonment.
- You can engage a solicitor to draw up an ACD for you, or by using a website from which you can download a standard template.
The full Citizens Advice Bureau article on Living Wills in Ireland can be found here: