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Living Will

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a declaration of your wishes regarding medical treatment should you become incapable of expressing those wishes at the time they are required – it does not deal with the disposition of your assets following death.

Why make a Living Will?

Every person has a right to die with dignity free from medical efforts to prolong terminal illness just because the technology is available to do so.

At these times, the family and hospital staff often do not know what to do and they can be left wondering whether they have made the right decision. Very few people really want to be kept alive indefinitely in a persistent vegetative state but friends and family and medical staff feel obliged to do this because they do not know what your wishes were.

A Living Will can help solve this problem and it means that you will have been involved in the decision-making process.

What conditions must be satisfied?

To be valid, the document needs to fulfil the following criteria:

  • you must be mentally competent when preparing the Living Will;
  • at the time of preparing the document, you must be fully informed of the nature and effect of refusing life-prolonging treatment;
  • you must not be forced or influenced into preparing the document;
  • you must be over 18.

What decisions can be made?

In a Living Will you can usually make three types of decisions. You may:

  • wish to be kept alive for as long as reasonably possible using whatever form of medical treatment is available;
  • not wish to be kept alive by medical treatment and wish medical treatment to be limited to keeping you comfortable and free from pain;
  • express any wishes about any specific medical treatment or investigation that you may require in the future.

When is the document enforced?

The Living Will is reviewed if you are suffering from either of the following:

  • a physical illness from which there is no likelihood of recovery and is so serious that your life is nearing its end;
  • a permanent mental impairment which is so severe that you do not understand what is happening to you;
  • permanent unconsciousness with no likelihood of regaining consciousness.

Who should you notify?

A hospital will not automatically assume that a Living Will is in existence. You must ensure copies of the document are given to your GP, any hospital you enter for treatment and individuals whom you trust and whom you would notify should you change your mind about the contents of the document.

Making a Living Will

Making a Living Will could not be simpler. However, we recommend that you discuss the issue of a Living Will with your GP before arranging an appointment with us.

At your appointment we will discuss your individual requirements and we will require the following information:

  • our full name and date of birth;
  • the names of two individuals whom you would notify should you wish to vary the contents of the document.

Are there any other points to consider?

Instead of preparing a Living Will, you may prefer to give your authority over life-sustaining treatment to certain persons by preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney.  A Lasting Power of Attorney will allow those persons to make other decisions relating to your health and welfare as well.