A “Living” Will refers to a Will that expresses a person’s wishes to have their affairs handled for them during their lifetime. It is most commonly used by testators who are terminally ill or undergoing medical treatment, encompassing care giving and termination of life support. This is referred to as an “advanced decision” or “directive”, which is legally binding, and an advance statement, which is not. An individual will usually be appointed Power of Attorney to oversee the testator’s wishes being carried out.
It is important to note that advance decisions and statements can only relate to financial matters and healthcare decisions when the testator is still living. It cannot relate to distribution of an individual's estate upon death.
Power of Attorney
Power of attorney is the granting of legal authority to a third party to make decisions on the grantors behalf in the event they temporarily or permanently lose mental capacity to make their own decisions or communicate their decisions. This provides the grantee some discretion as how to best carry out the wishes of the testator.
Criteria for advance decisions
In order to be legally binding, an advance decision should be put into writing, signed and witnessed. It must also include a statement to the effect the testator wishes the provisions to be adhered to even if it puts their life at risk. Further requirements include:
- The testator to be over the age of 18 and of sound mind when making the advance directive.
- The testator is aware of the ramifications of their advance directive.
- There is no fraud or duress to the detriment of the testator.
Where concerning healthcare, an advance decision can be used to refuse treatment, but it cannot be used to request specific treatment thereby infringing on the judgment of a medical professional. A distinction should be drawn between refusing treatment and euthanasia or assisted suicide, the latter two being illegal under UK law.
Criteria for advance statements
An advance statement is not legally binding, but it should be taken into account by persons providing care for the testator. Examples include preferred food, sleeping arrangements, religious worship and visitation. Advance statements should be made known to the testator’s General Practitioner and kept on record. Because advance statements are not binding upon a doctor, they may choose to disregard them.
Revocation of a Living Will
A Living Will should be revoked through signed writing, and the original document and any copies destroyed.
Contact our Living Wills Solicitors London
At Lewis Nedas Law, we help our clients create Living Wills tailored to their specific needs and desires. For example, you may want to direct your family members to remove you from life support if you are terminally ill, but not if you are in a coma. Without advance decisions, it is up to your family members to make these incredibly difficult decisions.
Don't leave your family members without guidance during this emotional and stressful time. Consult our experienced Living Wills Lawyers to establish a Living Will and protect your loved ones from conflicts and distress. It is important to consult a legal professional in drafting advance decisions, as the information contained in a Living Will may allow death to occur.
We are dedicated to protecting our clients' best interests, and we take pride in offering 'City firm' standards of service at reasonable, realistic pricing levels. For more information please contact us on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form.