What is a Living Will?

Living Wills, correctly known as Advance Decisions, came into law under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The Advance Decision sets out your preferences about specific types of medical treatment.

In the event that you do not have mental capacity or are unable to communicate when such treatment is being considered, medics are legally bound to follow the instructions found in your Advance Decision.

Why might I need an Advance Decision?

It records whether you would object to, or accept, life-saving or prolonging treatment in particular circumstances.  Your medical team is obliged to heed your Advance Decision.

Although it sounds gloomy to plan for the worst, that’s pretty much what an Advance Decision lets you do.  It effectively gives you a say in the situation despite your incapacity at the time.

How do I make an Advance Decision?

We will talk you through the particular scenarios which an Advance Decision covers, and help you articulate your views on what your treatment should be.  We recommend that you discuss the scenarios and your instructions with your GP or other treating doctor before finalising your Advance Decision.

When the Advance Decision is written, it must be signed in the presence of a witness.  The witness must then also sign in your presence.

Can I include my wishes for general care in case I lose capacity?

No. But you can make an Advance Statement for this purpose.

The Advance Statement is not legally binding, but can include general guidance about how you would like to be cared for should you lose capacity.  It often covers personal preferences, such as what type of music you enjoy, what your intimate care regime is, your hobbies and interests – information which will give those looking after you insight into your likes and dislikes.

Services

Wills 

  

Costs

Advance Decision:
Consultation & Paperwork
£125 (inc VAT)

Probate fees are on the increase

Currently, there is a set fee of £215 to obtain a Grant of Probate. The new fee to be charged for Probate applications will be calculated on a sliding scale, probably around 0.5% of the value of the estate. This will have a huge impact on the costs of most probate applications, so what can you do about it?

How can my wishes be known if I’m too ill to communicate?

If we become too ill to speak for ourselves, we are deemed to have ‘lost capacity’. Decisions about our treatment and general care will be made by our medical team and, whilst our next of kin may have some say, the clinicians decide what is in our best interests and act accordingly. Let’s look at Health and Welfare LPAs.

Who’ll manage my money?

The question of who’ll keep our finances in order if we have lost our capacity to manage them is a huge one! It’s important to have someone we trust. Everyone’s heard scare stories of people targeted by unscrupulous ‘good samaritans’ who clear out their bank accounts… It doesn’t have to be that way.

Making a Living Will

What are your views on life saving medical treatment? Will your wishes be considered if those circumstances arise for you? A ‘Living Will’, sets out your preferred treatment in specific situations. This means that whether or not you are conscious, and whether or not you have capacity, your voice will be heard.

What else should I consider when making my Advance Decision?

1. You should review it every couple of years, and sign and date it to indicate you have done so.  If your medical team are aware that there have been advances in treatments or techniques since you signed your Advance Decision which, had you known about them, might have caused you to change your mind about your Advance Decision, they can apply to the Court to have it set aside.  Regular reviews show that you have reconsidered your decision in light of any such advances.

2. You should ensure people know about it!  Tell your next of kin, or a trusted friend who is likely to be contacted in an emergency or involved in your care.  Give a copy to your GP and have it added to your health records.  If you amend your Advance Decision, be sure to have the old ones destroyed and replaced.

3. If you have a Health & Welfare LPA, or are considering one, talk to us about the implications of having both in place.  The most recent document will outrank the older one in terms of binding your treating doctors, so it is important that they interact together without contradicting one another.  We can advise you in this regard, and complete the relevant paperwork for you to ensure your wishes will be carried out.

To find out more, or to draw up an Advance Decision,

book an appointment online or by telephone.