Making an Advance Decision (Living Will)

An advance decision, often referred to as a ‘living will’, is a document that can set out your precise wishes and preferences regarding your medical treatment if you ever reach a stage where you lack the mental capacity to decide for yourself.

Unlike the Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney which aims to achieve the same objective but gives someone chosen by you the right to make those decisions on your behalf, the Advance Decision allows you to specify now the care and medical treatment you prefer, including organ donation and to forbid any treatment you do not want such as life sustaining treatment. 

However, an Advance Decision cannot stipulate a specific medical treatment, an  illegal act, such as help in committing suicide or ask for someone else to make the decision for you.

This is a very complex area of law so it is important to obtain professional help in preparing an Advance Decision.

Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Advance Decisions are recognised as the only form of ‘living will’ that is legally binding.   Living wills made before the Mental Capacity Act came into force are not legally binding in the same way.  Therefore, we would recommend that you update your living will to an advance decision.