What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a commonly used term to describe the creating of documents that allow you to say how you would like to be treated towards the end of your life if you lose the ability to make your own decisions about your health and social care.
A Living Will consists of both an Advance Decision to refuse treatment and an Advance Statement of your preferences and wishes. They can be made separately, or they can be linked together.
What is an Advance Decision?
An Advance Decision allows you to record what medical treatments you would wish to refuse, and in what circumstances, towards the end of your life. It is legally binding if made correctly. It only applies at a time when you are unable to participate in decisions about your treatment for example, if you are suffering from dementia or a stroke.
What is an Advance Directive?
This is another name for Advance Decision. It is not commonly used in England and Wales, although it is used in Scotland.
What is an Advance Statement?
An Advance Statement allows you to record your wishes and preferences for care towards the end of your life. It also allows you to state your beliefs and values. An Advance Statement provides guidance for those caring for you. It is not legally binding but will help your carers to act in your best interests.
What is the difference between an Advance Decision and an Advance Statement?
An Advance Decision is a legally binding document. It allows you to say what treatments you wish to refuse if you are unable to make your own decisions.
An Advance Statement in not legally binding. It is your own statement of your wishes and preferences that you would want those who care for you to take into account towards the end of life. It can cover issues such as you prefer tea to coffee.
What are the costs of making a Living Will?
Creation of a living will is free. MLW is a not-for-profit charity. We have a very small staff who work pro-bono. However, we do have to maintain the website and pay for a server, which costs about £6000 a year. We do not receive funding from any organisation and are dependent on individual donations to sustain and keep the website up-to-date.
So, if you wish to make a small donation to MLW we would be delighted. You can do this at any time as well as once you have completed your documents. Alternatively, you can go to a solicitor who will draw up a living will for you, but this is likely to cost several hundred pounds.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for Health and Welfare?
A LPA for Health and Welfare is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people, known as 'attorneys', to make decisions about your health and welfare on your behalf if you lose the ability to make your own decisions. Note: there is a separate LPA for Property and Financial Affairs.
What is the relationship between the Advance Decision and the LPA for Health and Welfare?
If you make an Advance Decision after making and registering a LPA for Health and Welfare, the Advance Decision is what must be followed. This means an 'attorney' cannot give consent for treatment that has been refused in an Advance Decision. If you make an Advance Decision before making and registering a LPA that gives the 'attorney' the right to consent to or refuse treatment on your behalf, the Advance Decision ceases to be enforceable.
Where can I make a LPA for Health and Welfare?
Why should I make an Advance Decision?
An Advance Decision ensures that you will keep control of choices concerning your life should you lose the ability to make your own decisions by allowing you to refuse treatment.
Why should I make an Advance Statement?
An Advance Statement will help to ensure that those who care for you take your preferences, wishes, beliefs and values into account towards the end of your life.
Who should I talk to about making my Advance Decision and my Advance Statement?
You can use this website to make your Advance Decision and your Advance Statement by yourself. You can also discuss it with your family, friends and your doctor. This is particularly important if you're unsure of what decisions to make.
Who should I tell when I have made my Advance Decision and my Advance Statement?
Your Advance Decision and / or your Advance Statement will only be useful if those caring for you are aware of it. So it is important to tell your doctor and close family members and make sure they have a signed copy.
When should I make my Advance Decision and my Advance Statement?
Naturally, the chances of dying increase with age. So the older you are, the more important it is to set down your wishes concerning your end of life care. It is sensible for people over the age of fifty to make an Advance Decision. Any person living with a terminal illness should make an Advance Decision. However, both a stroke or an accident can happen to younger people at any time, so there is no reason to wait until you're older or serious illness strikes.
What happens if I don't make an Advance Decision?
You will participate in decisions about your care towards the end of life as long as you have the ability to do so. If you lose that ability to make decisions, those who care for you will make decisions on your behalf.
Why can't I alter the wording about treatment to be included in my Advance Decision?
The Advance Decision is a legal document whose meaning must be clear to those who will implement your choice to refuse certain treatments in specific circumstances. By using only carefully considered wording, the website minimises the risk of misunderstandings. However, your Advance Statement in your own words allows you to put your Advance Decision in your personal context.
I find it too difficult to think about how my life might end. What should I do?
You could seek out someone who could help you think things through, or you could grant a family member or friend an LPA for Health and Welfare to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are not able to participate yourself.
In what countries in the United Kingdom is an Advance Decision valid?
This website allows you to make an Advance Decision that complies with the law in England and Wales, the framework for which is laid out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Advance Directives can be made in Scotland under the Adults with Incapacity Act 2000, but are not legally binding. You can find out more here.
Advance Decisions are not legally binding in Northern Ireland because the Mental Capacity Act 2005 does not apply there, although it could still be helpful to make one. You can find out more here.