Living Wills / Advance Decisions

A Living Will, now called an Advance Decision is a very important legal document. We can guide you through the legal procedure and advise you on what can be included in the document. We will store the registered document on your behalf at no extra cost.

What is a Living Will (now called an Advance Decision)

An Advance Decision is a document which allows you to direct how decisions regarding your medical treatment should be made if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. People often fear that life-prolonging treatments would be provided long after they were able to achieve a level of recovery or quality of life that they would consider to be acceptable or tolerable.

Advance Decisions enable people with dementia to have a say in their future care, and can also be invaluable in giving guidance to family and medical practitioners in the event of an accident or serious unexpected illness.

Is my Advance Decision legally enforceable?

Yes, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 gives people in England and Wales a statutory right to refuse treatment through the use of an Advance Decision. It must be drawn up when you were over 18 and had the required mental capacity, and be clear and relevant to the medical circumstances that arise.

The British Medical Association recognises that healthcare professionals may be legally liable if they disregard the contents of a valid Advance Decision.

How long is my Advance Decision valid for, and do I have to renew it?

Your Advance Decision will be valid from the date you sign it, but it is advisable to review and, if necessary, revise it periodically to ensure that it continues to reflect your views. Your own idea of what is an acceptable quality of life, or available treatments, may change over time. It is possible that a person with Alzheimer’s may live a tranquil and contented life, or that a cure is found for a specified disease envisaged as ‘hopeless’ when the Advance Decision is made.

Failure to update the document will not invalidate it, but if you do revise your Advance Decision remember to sign and date it with the current date.

Does my GP have to be involved?

It is useful to discuss your Advance Decision with your GP so he or she will understand your wishes and can also be called upon if necessary to confirm that you had capacity at the time you made these decisions.  It is also important to make sure that a copy of your Advance Decision is placed with your medical records.

Can my family overturn an Advance Decision?

No. An advance decision is a statement of your wishes and cannot be overturned by anyone unless:

  • You have signed a Lasting Power of Attorney to appoint a health and welfare attorney after the Advance Decision and given authority to the attorney to accept or refuse treatment to which the Advance Decision relates
  • You revoke the Advance Decision yourself at a time when you have the required mental capacity
  • You made your Advance Decision at a time when you did not have the required mental capacity
  • You were unduly influenced by others to make the Advance Decision

Living Wills / Advance Decisions Team

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