A living will was formally known as an ‘Advance Decision’. Putting in place a living will allows you to make decisions about the types of medical treatment you want to refuse if you are in a position where you cannot provide this information yourself.
If you have a life limiting disease you will be able to discuss your treatment with your doctor whilst you are still able to and to agree what treatment you want or don’t want. If however, you are in a car accident or have a stroke or some other sudden event; you may not be able to express your wishes.
An Advance Decision gives you the security you need to be sure that you will not receive certain types of treatment if something happens to you which renders you unable to make this decision yourself. The legal term for this is to ‘lack capacity’.
You also have the opportunity to make an Advance Statement which covers your wishes about how you want to be treated. This covers everything else except your decision to refuse treatments, which is covered in your Advance Decision. Although an Advance Statement is not legally binding, it will be taken into account. An Advance Decision is legally binding and cannot be ignored or discounted.
So what do you need to consider when making an Advance Decision?
The first steps would be to think about the types of treatments you don’t want to receive. These may be things like resuscitation or life support machinery. It is important to be clear about what treatment you don’t want and in which circumstances this situation may arise.
When you are making this important decision about your future treatment, it is vitally important that you speak to your loved ones and family too so that they understand the decisions you are making and that they support you in these decisions.
You will need to speak with your GP about your Advance Decision. This is because you have to have someone sign to say that you have the mental capacity to make an Advance Decision. Your GP will also be able to answer any questions you may have about certain types of treatments.
Finally, although you can make an Advance Decision without a solicitor, it may not be legally binding, so it is really important to seek independent legal advice to ensure that if the worst happens, your medical wishes will be carried out.
For more information about this article or any aspect of our Wills, Probate & Trusts services (including Care home fees recovery and powers of attorney), please call us on 0333 34 44 54 8 and we will be delighted to help you (there is no charge for initial telephone discussions).
This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.
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