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Make a Living Will

If you’re worried about losing mental capacity in the future and no longer having control over the type of medical treatment you receive, you may want to make a Living Will.

A Living Will – also called an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment – allows you to set out instructions for your future healthcare. For example, you can use it to tell doctors:

  • If there’s any type of treatment you don’t want to receive
  • You want life-sustaining care to be withdrawn at a certain point
  • Do not resuscitate in certain circumstances.

An Advance Decision is legally binding and must be respected by those providing your medical care. You can also make something called a Statement of Preferences, also known as an Advanced Care Plan. This isn’t legally binding, but your family, doctors and carers may wish to take it into consideration when making decisions about your care.

Our solicitors can help you make a Living Will to give you peace of mind for future and make sure your loved ones know what you want. We have extensive experience helping people plan for later life and can advise you on how to make one that’s right for you and your wishes.

Call us today on 0370 1500 100 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

Experts in helping with any issues arising from age or incapacity
Advise on future care or treatment and how this will work
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Experts in creating Living Wills with Health & Welfare LPAs

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Make A Living Will - More Information
    • What Makes A Living Will Legally Binding?
    • To be legally binding, a Living Will must be:

      • In writing
      • Signed by you in the presence of a witness.

      It must contain a clear statement that the treatment is not to be provided even if your life is at risk.

      You can’t nominate a specific person to have authority with a Living Will, as this will invalidate it. If you want someone to have power of your healthcare decisions in future, you must make a Lasting Power of Attorney.

    • What’s The Difference Between An Advance Decision And Advance Statement?
    • An Advance Decision (Living Will) lets you set out the circumstances in which you don’t want to have certain treatment, once you’ve lost mental capacity to express your own wishes. It’s legally binding and doctors and medical staff must follow your directives.

      A Statement of Preferences is more general, and just allows you to talk about the type of things you do or don’t want in your care. You can include it as part of an Advance Care Plan. It isn’t legally binding, but those looking after you may take it into account when making decisions about your care.

    • Who Should Consider Making A Living Will?
    • If you want to have some control over how you’re treated if you lose the capacity to communicate your wishes, it’s a good idea to make a Living Will.

      It’s especially important if you feel strongly about when you would wish stop receiving life-sustaining treatment.

      If you’re also making a Power of Attorney for your healthcare, you can make a Living Will as well – however, it’s very important to seek legal advice to check the terms of each don’t invalidate the other.

      Our solicitors can advise you on the best course of action when outlining your wishes for future healthcare. Call us today on 0370 1500 100.

    • Is There Anything You Can't Put In A Living Will?
    • There are some things you can’t use a Living Will for, including:

      • Request a specific treatment
      • Ask for your life to be ended.

      Following an Advance Decision is not the same as assisted suicide, which is illegal. You can specify circumstances in which you:

      • Don’t want to be given treatment
      • Want life-sustaining treatment to be withdrawn.

      If your medical team feel it would be in your best interests and it is clinically appropriate, both these actions are legal. But actively giving treatment that is intended to kill you is not lawful, and you can’t use a Living Will to ask for this type of action.

    • How Is Lasting Power Of Attorney Different To A Living Will?
    • A Lasting Power of Attorney can cover a much broader range of issues than a Living Will. For example, it might set out decisions for:

      • Where you live
      • Your day to day care, including diet and dress
      • Your dental or optical treatment
      • Whether or not you should take part in social or leisure activities

      A Living Will is specifically about treatment under certain circumstances, and as such is usually just concerned with your end of life care.

      An LPA also gives authority for making decisions to named individuals. A doctor would have to consult all these people before being able to follow any treatment plan, whereas with an Advance Decision they would be able to continue according to your wishes.

      Find out more about making a Power of Attorney.

    • How Can Irwin Mitchell Help?
    • Irwin Mitchell has extensive experience helping people draft Living Wills and plan all aspects of their end of life care. Since there’s no set form for a Living Will, it’s best to get legal advice to make sure your wishes will be upheld.

      We can advise you on what can and cannot be included in your Living Will, to ensure that the document is valid and won’t be overturned.

Irwin Mitchell are a very professional, trustworthy and straightforward company to deal with. I would recommend them to anyone."

Frank Clayton, client

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Should I Tell About My Living Will?

If you want to make a Living Will, we recommend you discuss this with your GP and any doctors or consultants already treating you. You should leave a copy of it with your medical records so it’s easily accessible.

We also recommend you let your loved ones know about your wishes. This will prepare them in the event you do need to have any treatment withdrawn, and can save disputes amongst family if everyone understands what your wishes are from the start.

We understand it can be distressing to talk to others about the prospect of taking away life-sustaining care, but it’s essential to set out your wishes to ensure you’ll be treated in the way you want.

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Should I Get A Living Will Or A Power Of Attorney?

Whether you make a Living Will or Power of Attorney (LPA) will depend on your own personal circumstances. It is possible to make both, but they must be carefully drafted to ensure the terms of the LPA don’t invalidate your wishes in the Living Will.

A Living Will is much narrower in scope, as it only deals with treatment in a specific situation. However, if you feel strongly about certain medical care, it can be easier to make sure your wishes are respected with a Living Will.

An LPA is drafted using a prescribed form, and certain conditions need to be fulfilled in order for it to be effective:

  • It needs a certificate of capacity (to say you no longer have mental capacity)
  • It has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

A doctor would also have to consult all the named attorneys before going ahead with any removal of treatment.

There’s no prescribed form for a Living Will, and it doesn’t need a certificate to come into effect. The doctor doesn’t have a statutory duty to consult anyone – as long as they’re satisfied the Living Will is valid and applies to the current situation, they have a duty to follow its directive.

We can talk you through whether a Living Will or LPA (or both) is right for you. Call us today on 0370 1500 100, or fill out our contact form and we’ll call you back.

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Can A Living Will Ever Be Overruled?

As long as the Living Will is valid and is relevant to the current circumstances of your care, the medical staff looking after you must follow it. They must do this even if they think it would be in your best interests to receive the treatment that you’ve said you don’t want to receive.

If you have a Lasting Power of Attorney covering your healthcare decisions, however, it might be overridden. If the LPA also talks about refusing life-sustaining treatment, this might invalidate the Living Will.

In order to make sure your Living Will is valid and will be upheld, we recommend you seek legal advice. Talk to our team today.

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