As we head towards the national Will Aid campaign next month, the subject of Wills is given much needed prominence. Most people are aware of the challenges that could face their families if they die without leaving a will. However, not many people are aware that they can make a living will, also called an advance decision.
If you are ill, you may be able to discuss your condition with your doctor and agree a course of treatment between you, your doctor and your family. However, in the case of a serious car accident or a stroke, you may not be able to communicate your wishes about the kind of treatment you want to receive.
An advance decision will allow you to feel in control of your future medical choices, secure in the knowledge that if the worst happens and you are unable to make decisions for yourself, your advance decision or living will can speak for you.
Your advance decision can cover what types of treatment you would like to receive and also those you do not want.
If you want to refuse to have lifesaving treatment in an advance decision, you must be over the age of 18 and have the capacity, as described in the Mental Capacity Act, to make the advance decision. In addition, to be legally binding, it must:
Be in writing – someone can do this for you
Be signed – someone can sign on your behalf whilst you are present, if you cannot
Have signatures witnessed, either yours or the person signing on your behalf
Contain a written statement to say that the advance decision applies to the specific treatment, even if you may die as a result.
An advance decision that doesn’t meet these legal requirements is not invalid, although it cannot be used to refuse lifesaving treatment.
You can ask a specialist wills and probate lawyer to help you prepare an advance decision, so that you know you are in control of your treatment, whether you can communicate or not.
Contact Vicky Sladdin on 01302 320621 for more help.