A Living Will, sometimes called an advance decision or directive, should clearly indicate your specific wish to refuse all or some medical treatment during an illness or at the end of your life. It cannot be used to request medical treatment. Under current UK law you have the right to decide what type of medical treatment you want to have, or, the right to refuse it.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into force in 2007 and forms the legal basis for advance decisions. A valid advance decision must:
- be made by a person aged 18 or over who has the mental capacity to do so
- set out the treatment to be refused
- indicate the circumstances in which this refusal would apply
- there must have been no influence by any other person
- not have been modified either verbally or in writing since it was made.
An advance directive cannot be used to:
- ask for your life to ended
- nominate another party to decide on treatment on your behalf
- force doctors to act unprofessionally.
Lee Young heads our Private Client Team and draws up Living Wills for our clients. He says “A Living Will must be a true reflection of your wishes and must also make clear that the person making it is mentally competent. You do not have to be currently undergoing medical treatment to make an advance decision, as they tend to deal specifically with end of life treatment and care. Contact our Private Client Team if you would like to discuss this further – we offer a free, no obligation, initial meeting to explain what needs to be done and then it is your choice how to proceed.”