What is a Living Will?

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What is a Living Will?

We explain how this legally binding document can help you stay in control of your life and the decisions you make now and into the future.

There comes a time when most of us want to begin planning for our future and that means we need to draw up, what’s known in legal terms as, an advanced decision, living will or a lasting power of attorney.

Here we outline the differences, and some of the important facts you need to consider:

  • Lasting Power of Attorney:

The sad fact is, loss of mental capacity is often a result of an accident, or rapid onset illness, and can happen at any age.  A Lasting Power of Attorney means you are able to communicate your own decisions and give someone else (your Attorney) the ability to make those decisions for you.

Understand about the provisions on the Office of the Public Guardian’s website. By working with a specialist solicitor, such as TM Law, you can draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney and communicate your wishes relating to health and welfare to your chosen Attorney before you lose capacity.


  • An Advanced Statement

If you would like your general wishes and hopes in relation to later life, and the care you receive to be known then you might consider drawing up an advanced statement.  You may outline the fact that you’d like to stay in your own home for as long as possible, or that it’s important to you to continue certain activities or maintain friendships.  Perhaps you would list the music you like to listen to, preference for a bath or shower, religious beliefs and favourite foods. An advanced statement is designed to deal with non-medical issues and you should consider that it is not legally binding.  It’s simply a document account for the people involved in your care.


  • Living Will:

A Living Will is another way of describing what is known as an “advance decision”.  A Living Will allows you to express your wishes, perhaps the refusal of medical treatment. It becomes relevant if you are unable to make or to communicate you own decisions.  An advanced decision is legally binding, and it means those caring for you must follow your instructions.  However, it will only be used if you lose the capacity to make or communicate decisions about your treatment.

Because a Living Will or advanced decision is legally binding you should discuss your plans with your doctor or a health care professional who knows your medical history.  If there are some benefits of certain treatments, then this is something you should consider. A Living Will is also something that you may wish to discuss with your family and friends so that they understand your wishes.

If you make a decision to refuse certain treatments this must be clear and also should deal with the following: –

  • Under what circumstances would you not want to receive a specified treatment.
  • Is there a specific treatment that you would wish to have even if this could lead to your death?
  • The advanced decision cannot be used to request certain treatment and it can not be used to ask for your life to be ended.
  • How is the advance decision made?


An advanced decision in writing gives certainty and makes it as straightforward as possible for your loved ones, and health care professionals to satisfy your wishes.

A copy can be given to your loved ones and everyone involved in your care.  Your GP in particular should know about your advance decision so that they can include it in your medical notes.  This is something that you can review regularly and change at any time.  Clear communication a record in writing dated and signed are essential.

Please note that if you want to refuse potentially life sustaining treatment your request must be in writing, signed, witnessed and include the statement that even if life is at risk “as a result”.


Preparation for Lasting Powers of Attorney, advance decisions and advance statements can all be dealt with without the assistance of a lawyer.  However, there are pitfalls, there are things you might not think of and it has such important consequences if you do lose capacity, that you might feel that a certain amount of legal advice in conjunction with making these decisions would be helpful and save the possibility of misunderstandings that might be to your detriment.




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About TM Law – Specialist Will and Lasting Power of Attorney Solicitor

Based in Hockley, Essex, TM Law is a small and dedicated solicitors.  With many years’ experience, helping business owners and local individuals with matters of Wills and Lasting Power of Attorney, compromise agreements, employment disputes, debt collection, commercial disputes and much more.

As a specialist Wills and Lasting Power of Attorney solicitor, TM Law’s knowledge of the Rules of Intestacy, Protective Trusts, Estate Administration and Lasting Powers of Attorney are second to none.


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