Making decisions about your future care

The law relating to a Living Will permits you – if you lose mental capacity in the future – to make:

  • A binding advance decision to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment; and/or
  • An advance statement setting out which treatments you would or wouldn’t like to receive.

Advance decisions in a Living Will

An advance decision has the same effect as a refusal of treatment by a person with capacity. Essentially, the treatment cannot be given – otherwise the doctor might face civil liability or criminal prosecution.

To be valid an advance decision must meet the following criteria:

  • You have to be 18 years old or over and have the mental capacity to make it.
  • You need to specify the treatment to be refused.
  • You must specify the circumstances in which your refusal would apply.
  • You must state that the decision stands even if your life is at risk.
  • You must not have been under the influence or harassment from another party when making the decision.
  • The decision must not have been modified (verbally or in writing) since it was made.
  • It must be in writing and be signed and witnessed (it can be signed by someone else at your direction).

Advance statements in a Living Will

An advance statement can include:

  • Treatment you would be happy to have, and in what circumstances.
  • Treatment you would want, in any circumstances.
  • Treatment you would prefer not to have, and in what circumstances.
  • Someone you would like to be consulted about your treatment when a decision needs to be made.

You need to allow for the possibility that new drugs or treatments may be introduced in the future.

To discuss how a Living Will can be drafted to meet your particular requirements, please contact a member of our expert Wills, Trusts and Probate team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form

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