Firstly, perhaps it may be useful to explain that a Living Will is nothing to do with your Last Will and Testament, It is not concerned with your financial affairs.
However, a Living Will allows you to provide instructions for future medical care and treatment while you are still capable of making decisions for yourself. It is legally enforceable under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and should be followed by healthcare professionals.
The Living Will sets out your wishes regarding the healthcare you want to receive, and how you want to be treated if you become seriously ill and are unable to communicate your own choices. A Living Will can request that you are kept alive as long as possible, or it can state that you wish life-sustaining treatment to be refused. However, it cannot request that you do not receive food or drink by mouth; neither is a Living Will an instrument for euthanasia.
A Living Will can only be made by a person who is 18 or over and has mental capacity. Sometimes the Living Will is considered as being for older people, but it should be remembered that life-threatening situations can occur at any age, for example as a result of a:
- serious motoring accident, as a driver, passenger or pedestrian
- personal attack
- sporting accident
- serious illness or disease
Indeed the British Medical Association (BMA) strongly recommends that all adults should make a Living Will whilst they have the appropriate medical capacity. So if you are concerned about the future medical treatment that you may receive in the event you suffer, for example, brain damage, a stroke, head injuries or dementia; a Living Will can undoubtedly provide peace of mind in the knowledge that your wishes will be treated with dignity.
The Living Will advises your healthcare professionals and family about your wishes regarding your medical treatment in the event you are unable to communicate them for yourself. Obviously, your Living Will would be extremely helpful to the medical professionals and your immediate family.
Recent headlines have highlighted the heartbreaking and distressing cases where patients are being kept alive by prolonged life-sustaining treatment because they have not made a Living Will – even though they have discussed with their loved ones that they did not wish to endure this type of treatment, nor be a burden to their family. But the law says they must continue with such treatment, unless they have otherwise confirmed their express wishes in the form of a Living Will.
In your Living Will you can name who you would like to be consulted on your care when you can no longer communicate your wishes. Naturally, all medical staff must act in your best interests, and if you can still communicate, then of course you will be consulted. The Living Will only comes into force if you can no longer communicate.
Making a Living Will gives you peace of mind, knowing that your wishes should not be ignored if you are unable to take part in the decision-making process. It will undoubtedly remove the burden from your loved ones of making terrible decisions, as you will have made your wishes crystal clear.
If you would like to make a Living Will just give us a call or contact us. We pride ourselves on providing you with a personal and professional service, which we believe you’ll find to be second to none!