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Wishes regarding care

Any one of us can suffer an accident, illness or end-of-life situation that leaves us in need of care. Wouldn’t you prefer to decide who is going to care for you in such a situation? Well now you can!

As part of your application to appoint a legal guardian, your voice will be heard by both the guardianship court and the supervisory authority. The corresponding hearing will give you the opportunity to express your wishes regarding who you would like to be responsible for your care. Your wishes are given great significance. If you propose a specific (and suitable) guardian, the court is obliged to respect your wishes.

In certain situations, the applicant’s state of health might be such that he or she can no longer express his or her wishes. It is very helpful to the court in these circumstances if you have previously expressed your wishes regarding how you wish care to be applied. It is advisable to set down your wishes regarding care in writing. The court must take this into account when subsequently appointing a guardian.

You can use this written expression of your wishes to specify who is to take transferred responsibility for some or all of your affairs, and you can also specify who should NOT be assigned such responsibility.

he written expression of your wishes can also contain further individual details. You can for example establish which of your habits or customs the guardian should take into account, and you can also express your preferences regarding whether, in the event of needing care, you wish to be supplied with a home help package or admitted to a care home. You can likewise use the written expression of your wishes to specify which care service should be involved or which care home conforms to your requirements.

If your state of health means that you cannot express your wishes in this respect, a corresponding previous written statement can be of great help to the court and guardians involved. The greater the number of wishes and the greater the detail with which you express them, the easier it will be for the court and guardians to comply with your desires. The wishes expressed your written statement are binding on both the court and the guardians involved, unless they are contrary to your interests, or if you have specifically renounced a wish, or if guardians could not reasonably be expected to fulfil the wish concerned.

Expression of patient’s wishes in a living will

Regardless of whether or not you have appointed a legal guardian to deal with healthcare-related tasks, you must still give your own consent to medical intervention for as long as you remain able to do so. You are considered capable of giving consent if you understand the nature, extent and scope of the proposed medical procedure and can express your desires accordingly.

An authorised person with power of attorney or a legal guardian will only take decisions on proposed medical procedures if you are no longer capable of giving your consent. Your reasonably presumed wishes are decisive in this respect.

It is always helpful for persons with power of attorney, guardians and doctors in a situation such as this if the patient has previously expressed his or her wishes is in writing. Patient’s wishes are regulated under the terms of the corresponding German civil-code legislation (Article 1901a sect. 1 German Civil Code – BGB) This law defines the patient’s wishes as a written statement made by a person legally of age, expressing whether he or she wishes to consent to or prohibit, at the moment concerned, immediate diagnosis of his or her state of health, the application of medical treatments or the carrying-out of medical interventions.

The written expression of the patient’s wishes can therefore also establish whether and how you wish to be treated medically if your state of health is now such that you can no longer decide for yourself. This written expression of the patient’s wishes is binding on doctors, provided it corresponds to your specific status regarding treatment and life situation. If the expression of the patient’s wishes does not correspond to a specific situation, it falls to the guardian or a person with power of attorney to verify your presumed wishes and take the corresponding decision.

If you establish your desires in a written expression of patient’s wishes, this will let you influence subsequent medical interventions. This will let you conserve your right to self-determination even in situations where your state of health is such that you can no longer express yourself or give your consent.

The expression of patient’s wishes is designed mainly for the doctors who are likely to be responsible for your treatment. However, an authorised person with power of attorney or a legal guardian can also refer to the patient’s living will and ask for it to be interpreted and enforced accordingly.

You should ensure that your doctor, relatives, any person with power of attorney and/or your legal guardian are all supplied with copies of your wishes as a patient in the form of a living will. You can also carry a card on your person, indicating the existence and whereabouts the document concerned.