Shakespeare 400 Part 2

“To be or not to be” says Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, in his famous soliloquoy. We might rather say “to live or to die” or, the purposes of this article perhaps more accurately “to be resuscitated or not to be resuscitated”.

The press have reported this week that there are apparently unknown numbers of people in hospital who are being resuscitated against their wishes because they cannot consent to or refuse this having either lost their mental capacity or because they are unconscious or in a coma.  The press article makes the point that some of these people have made lasting powers of attorney giving their appointed representatives the legal authority to make such momentous decisions for them.  This sounds a good thing and it is, but these lasting powers of attorney need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they are valid.  The point about the story in the press is that the Office of the Public Guardian is taking so long to register them that there are some poor people who are being put through resuscitation which they would wish to refuse if they could because their attorneys cannot show the doctors a valid registered document. 

This may be true and if it is, it is very worrying.  But how much better if these people had made their lasting powers of attorneys sooner rather than later, had them registered and put them away somewhere safe just in case.  They could also have made a living will to give guidance on what their wishes would be in a number of different circumstances.  A living will is not a power of attorney but it does show a person’s point of view at a time when they were able to express that view and can back up what an attorney is saying if they are in a position of having to decide to refuse resuscitation on behalf of another. This would be better for the medical profession and for any of us who find ourselves in this position as we will not then have our wishes ignored because we cannot express them ourselves at the relevant time.

With all this in place in good time we can in fact decide whether “to be or not to be” when it matters most.


Andrea is a Director and Head of Private Client department and specialises in Wills, probate and tax planning.  She also advises on lasting powers of attorney and declarations of trust in relation to property ownership.  Andrea is often asked to advise elderly parents and their children on the issue of trust of the family home and gift of the family home to the children. 

Many clients regard her as the ‘family’s solicitor’ and come back to her whenever they need legal advice. Clients have appointed her to act as their Attorney in the event that they become unable to manage their own affairs and she has acted in this capacity on a number of occasions.

Andrea is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly.

solicitor for the elderly

Andrea qualified as a solicitor in 1985 and has worked as a full time solicitor since then.  She has been with Gray Purdue, now Verisona Law, since 1987, initially acting for clients in matrimonial cases. Since 1999 she has advised on Wills and probate, and related matters.

She was on the Solicitors panel for the Leprosy Mission for a number of years and supports ‘free Wills’ campaigns designed to raise money for charities.    

Past work

  • Acted for a client whose husband died unexpectedly without making his Will and leaving her with a young baby. 
  • Made an application to the Court to amend the rules of intestacy to ensure that the client was able to manage financially without having to tie up funds for her baby daughter until she was older.

Acted for a client whose solicitors at the time had failed to do a deed of variation to reduce the amount of inheritance tax that was payable on his late father’s estate.  Ensuring that the client received compensation for this and was put in the position he would have been had the deed of variation been prepared and signed in the time allowed. 

  • Wills
  • Probate and administration of estates
  • Tax planning as it relates to wills and estates
  • Lasting powers of attorney
  • Registration of enduring powers of attorney
  • Declarations of trust and transfers of equity
  • Initial advice regarding probate and will disputes
  • Living wills/Advance Directives
  • Equity release