Living Wills and Advanced Directives
A Living Will (or Advance Directive) is an oral or written statement confirming what medical treatment you do not wish to receive during your lifetime. It does not deal with financial matters and ceases to have effect following death.
End of life wishes are rarely discussed in the UK but a conversation in which your wishes are discussed is one of the most important conversations that needs to take place within a family. At a time when you are unable to voice your opinion or express your tolerances to treatment a record of what your wishes are, made at a time when you had capacity to clearly decide what you wanted, is invaluable.
A Living Will does just this. It records what you do not want to happen to you. It cannot state what medical treatment you want to receive because you do not know what will be available in the future. What it does do is clearly state your boundaries.
An oral statement is sufficient to express wishes that do not involve life sustaining treatment. You need a written statement which is signed, witnessed and dated for wishes which involve life sustaining treatment.
A Living Will can sit alongside a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney and provide instructions for your attorneys to follow.
As with any legal document a Living Will must be kept under review to ensure it accurately reflects your wishes.