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Take Back Control with a Living Will or Advance Directive

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

England’s population is aging. As we increase in age so does the likelihood of increased risk of chronic diseases such as dementia, heart disease, and cancer.

If we lose control of our bodies, dignity, and identity through chronic illness, a Living Will or Advance Directive can give back some control once capacity has been lost.

Living Wills can be made whilst people are well, but the need for having one is usually triggered if you have been diagnosed with a terminal or degenerative illness or if you have watched a loved one suffer the negative effects of a chronic illness.

A Living Will is a legally binding document detailing medical treatments that you do or do not wish to be given in the future should you lose capacity or are unable to make a decision for yourself.

A Living Will can contain general instructions or more detailed instructions for each specific circumstance and for this reason, it is recommended to take legal advice to ensure its validity and to make sure you are treated with dignity and respect if and when the Living Will would be used.

When thinking about making a Living Will it is also recommended that you seek medical advice to discuss your intentions to help you to come to an informed decision from a medical perspective.

Refusing life-sustaining treatment is a serious decision, so for that reason receiving both legal and medical advice is vital to ensure the document can be tailored to reflect each individual’s needs and wishes alongside being made aware of the consequences of making a decision on life-sustaining treatment.

Who, How, and What makes a valid living Will?

  • You must be over 18 and have mental capacity
  • The document must be witnessed and signed
  • The document must be made clear and include a sentence stating the decisions apply even if this means that your life is at risk
  • It must clearly explain the situations your refusal should and will apply to
  • You must list clearly the treatments you wish to be refused
  • Your legal advisor must be certain that you have not been coerced or pressured into making it

It is important to have your Living Will detailed in your medical records and to make your loved ones aware of your decision to prevent any distress or misunderstanding when your Living Will is triggered by a loss of capacity or if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

A Living Will can be drafted at the same time or work alongside a Lasting Power of Attorney, helping your attorneys with guidance in respect of your end of life wishes.

Discussions around Living Wills can create polarising options but ultimately it can be used to help the individual concerned have the ability to choose the level of care they receive and it also brings comfort to loved ones knowing their wishes are being carried out.

Individuals who have capacity can choose to refuse medical treatment with the duty of honour held by the medical profession.

But what happens if we are no longer able to communicate our decisions?

Although the medical profession will always act in the best interests of each patient they will not always plan for our care and treatment as you as an individual would. Having a Living Will gives an individual the chance to gain control of their lives as if they were still able to make decisions for themselves when they are no longer able to.

Wilson Browne Solicitors have experts who will be able to assist you and your loved ones in the preparation of a Living Will or an Advance Directive. Contact us today to book an appointment to discuss the same.