A living will, or advanced decision, is a document which states your wish to refuse medical treatment if you are unable to communicate this yourself. It is most commonly used by testators who are terminally ill or undergoing medical treatment, encompassing caregiving and termination of life support. It sets out the circumstances in which you do not wish to receive treatment, or certain kinds of treatments you wish to refuse.
Using a living will, you can refuse treatment even if this leads to your death. This obviously isn't a decision to be taken lightly and should involve discussions with your care team. If you decide to go ahead, you should seek legal advice to ensure that your living will is legally binding and properly expresses your wishes. Scott-Moncrieff’s team of experienced, empathetic lawyers can help.
Frequently asked questions about living wills
Is there a difference between a living will and an advance decision?
No.' Living will' is a term many members of the public are familiar with, but it isn't actually a legal term. When we talk about a living will, what we are referring to is either an 'advance decision' or an 'advance statement'. Advance statements are not legally binding, but advance decisions are if they are recorded properly. We use 'living will' in this article because it is the term we have found our clients to be most familiar with.
Can I make a living will if I have a lasting power of attorney?
Yes, but the way these two documents interact can be complicated, so it is best to seek legal advice to ensure your wishes are followed.
Will people really follow my living will, even if it means I die?
Yes. A living will is a legally binding document which care professionals and your next of kin must abide by if it is created correctly. If you want to refuse life-sustaining treatment, there are some additional legal requirements which your living will has to meet, but provided this is done your living will has to be followed by your care team.
At Scott-Moncrieff, we offer the full range of services you will need to ensure that medical professionals can use your living will to understand your wishes, even when you can't do this yourself. Our lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable. We will ensure that you understand every step of the process. Our services include:
- Guidance on what your living will should contain.
- Helping you to make sure everyone involved in your care is aware of your living will and its contents.
- Advice on how to make sure your living will is legally binding if you wish to refuse life-sustaining treatment.
- Advice on how your living will interacts with any lasting powers of attorney.
- Making changes to an existing living will.
Contact our Living Wills Lawyers in London
Making a living will is never a decision to be taken lightly, but if it is the right one for you, we can help you to ensure it is respected.