The term Living Will is commonly used to refer to a document which expresses how you want to be treated or cared for in certain situations when you may not have the capacity to communicate your decisions. It gives your family, doctors and caregivers confidence that they are following your wishes at an emotionally fraught time.
If you are over 18, you can use the document to communicate about types of treatment that you don’t want to undertake and give more general statements about how you want to be cared for in accordance with your beliefs and values.
You can find lots of advice via charities and legal organisations about how you may want to record these thoughts. If you wish to include an advance decision about not undertaking life sustaining treatments however, for it to be valid, you must follow very specific instructions set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This states what you must cover in the document and says that your wishes must be dated, signed and witnessed.
Whilst legally doctors and solicitors do not need to be involved, it is wise to discuss options with medical professionals to ensure you fully understand all the consequences. They may also be able to help you phrase things more clearly.
By Susan Brookes-Morris