<

A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that allows you to specify the medical treatments you wish to receive if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It’s important to have a living will in place to ensure that your wishes are respected and that you receive the treatment you want.

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a legal document that allows you to specify the medical treatments you wish to receive or refuse if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It’s a way of making your wishes known in advance and ensuring that they are respected. A living will can be used to refuse certain treatments, such as resuscitation, or to specify the circumstances in which you would want life-sustaining treatment to be withheld or withdrawn.

Why Do You Need a Living Will?

There are several reasons why you might want to have a living will in place. Firstly, it ensures that your wishes are respected, even if you are unable to communicate them. This can be particularly important if you have specific religious or cultural beliefs that affect your medical treatment choices.

Secondly, a living will can help to reduce the burden on your loved ones, who may otherwise have to make difficult decisions on your behalf. By specifying your wishes in advance, you can help to alleviate their stress and ensure that they are not left with the responsibility of making decisions that may conflict with their own beliefs.

Thirdly, a living will can help to avoid disputes among family members about your treatment choices. If you have specified your wishes in advance, there is less chance of disagreement or conflict arising.

Family enjoying the outdoors with their dog after setting up living wills

How Do You Make a Living Will?

To make a living will, you can enquire with us here at Town & Country. We will be able to advise you on the legal requirements for a living will and ensure that it is legally binding. It’s important to choose a reputable service provider, such as Town and Country Law, who has experience in preparing living wills if you do not do this, the living will document may not be legally binding and accurately reflect your wishes. Additionally, using an inexperienced or unreliable service provider may result in errors or omissions in the document, this could lead to dispute or confusion down the line. What is more, we will be able to provide you with ongoing support and advice as your circumstances change over time.

Once you have made your living will, you should provide a copy to your GP, hospital, and anyone else who may need to know about your treatment wishes. You should also keep a copy with your other important documents, such as your will and insurance policies.

Are There Any Costs Associated with Making a Living Will?

The cost of making a living will can vary depending on the service provider you choose. At Town and Country Law, we offer a fixed fee for our living will service, which includes a consultation with a specialist solicitor and the preparation of your living will. We believe in transparency and will always provide you with a clear breakdown of our costs before you proceed with our service.

In addition to the cost of making a living will, it’s important to consider any ongoing costs associated with storing and updating your living will. At Town and Country Law, we offer a free storage service for your living will, and we will remind you when it’s time to review and update it.

Do Most Older Adults Have Living Wills?

No, most adults in the UK do not have living wills. Studies suggest that only a minority of UK adults have completed a living will or advance directive.

For example, a survey conducted by the UK Law Society in 2018 found that only 6% of adults over the age of 55 had a living will or advance directive in place. Another study conducted in the UK in 2019 found that only 29% of adults over the age of 50 had made a living will that included their end-of-life wishes.

The reasons for the low rates of completion of living wills in the UK can be complex and multifactorial. Some people may not be aware of the importance of having a living will or may be reluctant to think about end-of-life issues. Others may face barriers to completing the document, such as lack of access to legal services or difficulty understanding the legal requirements.

Despite the relatively low rates of completion of living wills in the UK, there is growing recognition of the importance of these documents in ensuring that a person’s wishes for end-of-life care are respected. Healthcare professionals and legal advisors can play an important role in educating UK adults about the benefits of living wills and helping them complete the necessary documents.

Old Lady With Daughter Enjoying Life Outside

What is the Difference Between Advance Care Planning and Living Will?

Advance care planning involves a process of discussing and documenting an individual’s healthcare preferences and goals in the event they become unable to make decisions for themselves. It may involve discussions with family members, healthcare providers, and other trusted individuals to ensure that the person’s wishes are understood and respected.

An advance directive, on the other hand, is a legal document that outlines an individual’s specific wishes for medical treatment in the event they become unable to make decisions for themselves. It may include instructions for life-sustaining treatment, such as whether the individual wants to be resuscitated, as well as preferences for comfort care, such as pain management.

In summary, advance care planning is a broader process that involves discussing and documenting an individual’s healthcare preferences and goals, while an advance directive is a specific legal document that outlines an individual’s wishes for medical treatment. An advance directive is often a component of advance care planning, but it is not the only part of the process.

What Are 4 Things That Should Be Included in an Advance Directive?

  1. An indication of your preferences for end-of-life care: This may include specific instructions regarding whether or not the individual wants to be resuscitated, put on a ventilator, or receive artificial nutrition and hydration.

 

  1. A statement of your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment: The document should clearly state your preferences regarding life-sustaining treatment, including any treatments you do not want to receive.

 

  1. Appointment of a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf: You can appoint a trusted person, also known as a proxy decision-maker, to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. This person should be someone who knows your wishes and values, and who you trust to make decisions in your best interests.

 

  1. Instructions for organ donation: You can use your advance directive to indicate your willingness to donate your organs in the event of your death. You can specify which organs you are willing to donate and whether or not you have any specific wishes about how your donation should be handled.

Summary of Advance Directives

In summary, an advance directive is a legal document that outlines an individual’s specific wishes for medical treatment in the event they become unable to make decisions for themselves. It can help ensure that an individual’s preferences for end-of-life care and life-sustaining treatment are respected and can provide peace of mind for both the individual and their loved ones. A comprehensive advance directive should include instructions for life-sustaining treatment, a statement of the individual’s wishes regarding medical treatment, appointment of a trusted person to make decisions on the individual’s behalf, and instructions for organ donation if desired. It is important to create an advance directive while you are still able to make decisions for yourself, and to discuss your wishes with your loved ones and healthcare providers to ensure that everyone is on the same page.