The term ‘living will’, whilst helping people to understand the concept, is somewhat misleading in that, unlike a will, it does not deal with money or property.

Moreover, it can relate to all future treatment, not just that which may be immediately life-saving.

An advance decision, as it is formally known is legally binding in England and Wales. Except in the case where the individual decides to refuse life-saving treatment, it does not have to be written down, although most are and a written document is less likely to be challenged.

  Why make an advance decision?

  • If you have strong feelings about particular types of treatment, you may wish to make an advance decision.
  • You may want to refuse a blood transfusion, or an amputation. More commonly, if you’ve been told you have a terminal illness or dementia, you may wish to indicate which types of treatment you wouldn’t want to receive in the future.
  • An advance decision can give you peace of mind knowing your wishes won’t be ignored.