My Living Will
If you're thinking about a funeral plan or Record of Wishes then you should also consider a Living Will as a guide for family, carers and health professionals in the event that you can't make decisions for yourself.
An Advance Statement of Wishes and Preferences (not legally binding)
An Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (this IS legally binding)
This expresses your preferences, wishes, beliefs and values, helping everyone involved in your care to make good decisions based on your likes and dislikes. Examples include – You can state whether you want to attend church, how often you want to go to the hairdressers, the activities you enjoy or hate, food preferences etc.
You probably have strong views about what should happen if you lose the ability to make your own decisions so that you are no longer able or make decisions about your care. For example, if you develop dementia, stroke or a life-limiting condition. An Advance Decision will be crystal clear about which treatments you wish to refuse and under what specific circumstances. This is a requirement of the Mental Capacity Act (2005). There will be no room for misunderstanding. It is a legally binding document that will ensure that your instructions will be followed by those caring for you. It provides vital guidance to friends, family and healthcare professionals so they can make confident treatment decisions in line with your wishes. You can even set the conditions for when your Advance Decision comes into effect.
MLW makes it easy to create legally binding Advance Decisions. You can be confident in your Advance Decision since the Court of Protection has confirmed the MLW templates and advice conform to the Mental Capacity Act both in detail and in spirit.
Once the Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment is signed and witnessed, it is legal and binding. It does not need to be registered.
The Advantages of a Living Will
Your family and friends will know exactly how you wish to be cared for and what treatments you don’t want to receive. This will save the family difficult decisions in a crisis, reducing anxiety and the risk of conflict within the family.
The healthcare professionals, including carers, will have a better idea of who you are, which improves your care. Your end-of-life-care plans will take your wishes into account and will help all the staff work towards the same goals, again, reducing the risk of conflict.
A Living Will only comes into effect if you lose the capacity to make your own decisions about your health and welfare.
It is highly advisable for copies of this document to be given to your GP and other health care professionals or carers with whom you are in contact. Copies should also be given to next of kin, family and friends.
The Advance Decision is different from a Lasting Power of Attorney
Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare
Responsibility for life and death decisions may rest on the attorneys
The attorneys have legal duties
The LPA document must be paid for and registered with the Court of Protection to be valid. A solicitor can
help draw up an LPA or you can do it online.
You can create an LPA followed by an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment. Together they make your wishes crystal clear and ensure that your attorneys (appointed representatives) have undisputed authority to uphold your treatment / non-treatment wishes.
How to Create a Living Will
MyLivingWill is a registered charity and so relies on donations to continue to provide these valuable services, advice and assistance.
MLW is free, and you can draw up your own documents free of cost. However, any donation you may wish to make will be appreciated. You will be offered this opportunity once you have logged on to the MLW website.
Alternatively, you can go to a solicitor who will draw up a living will for you, but this will cost several hundred pounds.