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What is a Living Will?

July 6, 2016

We have recently seen an increased level of enquiries about a Living Will, so this is what you need to know.

A Living Will is an opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings about what type of medical/health care you would prefer in the event of you losing capacity to make these decisions in the future or being unable to communicate your decision. The term refers to an 'Advance Statement' and/or 'Advance Decision (to refuse treatment).

An Advance Statement is NOT legally binding but is a useful guide to medical professionals providing your care and treatment.  It is an opportunity to state your preferences for things like what type of food you enjoy or dislike, whether you prefer to take a bath or a shower, your religious views and where you would prefer to be cared for.  this list is by no means exhaustive.

An Advance Decision (to refuse treatment) IS legally binding.  It is only used if you are unable to communicate your decisions (e.g. in the event of dementia/coma) Those providing medical care MUST abide by your wishes, even if by refusing a certain medication it means it may lead to your death.  It does not need to be in writing unless it includes refusal of life sustaining treatment.  This is not to be confused with asking for your life to be ended (euthanasia) which is illegal in the UK.

What is the difference between an Advance Decision and a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for Health and Welfare?

In the event of you making both an LPA and an Advance Decision - it is whichever was completed last which is legally binding.  For example, if you made an Advance Decision after making an LPA your attorney would not be able to over-rule the Advance Decision.  If the LPA was completed after the Advance Decision, your attorney may have the discretion to make decisions if you have permitted them to do so.

For information or guidance on the best course of action for you, please contact our legal team on 079100 74611

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