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Making a Living Will

It is always a difficult and emotional time for a family when a loved one is coming to the end of their life. For many family members, it will be a time where difficult decisions need to be made about that individual’s care and medical treatment. If there is a Living Will in place setting out the person’s wishes on treatment, including refusing medical treatment, then all involved have the comfort of knowing what the individual wants and can then act accordingly. 

Whether you are someone who wishes to document their end of life wishes or a relative of an elderly person wanting to set their affairs in order, you may wish to consider a Living Will.

Frequently asked questions

The following are some of the most common questions we are asked about making a Living Will.

A Living Will (sometimes referred to as an ‘Advance Directive’ or ‘Advance Statement’) is document which provides instructions to the medical profession concerning your medical treatment at the end of your life. The document will detail treatments that you do not wish to receive and will be used in the event that you are unable to communicate your medical wishes at the time that you are ill or if you have lost capacity. It only concerns treatment in circumstances where two medical professionals are of the opinion that you are suffering from a condition from which you will not recover. 

For many people, the Living Will provides general instructions to the medical profession of their treatment wishes if they are coming to the end of their life and unable to communicate clearly what they want. For other people, they may wish their Living Will to be more specific, detailing different types of treatments that they wish to receive or do not wish to receive if they are terminally unwell such as artificial nutrition and hydration.

A Living Will can be tailored to be as detailed as you wish to reflect your own circumstances.

Where a person has capacity and is able to communicate their decision, they have the right to refuse any medical treatment and the medical profession have a duty to honour a refusal of medical intervention. Whilst in Scotland, a Living Will is currently not a legally binding document, the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 provides that a person’s wishes before they became incapacitated should be taken into consideration.

Many medical professions will accept their patient’s prior wishes if they are detailed in the Living Will. In particular, if you are receiving palliative care, many doctors will actively ask you or your family of your wishes and such wishes will be detailed in your medical records.

A Living Will can be used alongside the powers you have given to your Welfare Attorney in your Power of Attorney. Where a Welfare Power of Attorney has been granted, your Attorney has the ability to make decisions about the medical treatment that you shall receive if you are unable to make decisions on these matters. Such decisions can be very hard and emotional for an Attorney to make, especially where they are a close family member. A Living Will can be used to provide guidance to your Attorney and family members regarding your end of life wishes in these difficult times.

How can Thorntons help?

If you are thinking about putting in place a Living Will, our expert term of Private Client solicitors can guide you through the process, your options and the best way to proceed.

Call the Thorntons Private Client team on 03330 430150 to find out more about our Living Will services or complete our enquiry form and one of our Private Client solicitors will get in touch.

Frequently asked questions

The following are some of the most common questions we are asked about making a Living Will.

A Living Will (sometimes referred to as an ‘Advance Directive’ or ‘Advance Statement’) is document which provides instructions to the medical profession concerning your medical treatment at the end of your life. The document will detail treatments that you do not wish to receive and will be used in the event that you are unable to communicate your medical wishes at the time that you are ill or if you have lost capacity. It only concerns treatment in circumstances where two medical professionals are of the opinion that you are suffering from a condition from which you will not recover. 

For many people, the Living Will provides general instructions to the medical profession of their treatment wishes if they are coming to the end of their life and unable to communicate clearly what they want. For other people, they may wish their Living Will to be more specific, detailing different types of treatments that they wish to receive or do not wish to receive if they are terminally unwell such as artificial nutrition and hydration.

A Living Will can be tailored to be as detailed as you wish to reflect your own circumstances.

Where a person has capacity and is able to communicate their decision, they have the right to refuse any medical treatment and the medical profession have a duty to honour a refusal of medical intervention. Whilst in Scotland, a Living Will is currently not a legally binding document, the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 provides that a person’s wishes before they became incapacitated should be taken into consideration.

Many medical professions will accept their patient’s prior wishes if they are detailed in the Living Will. In particular, if you are receiving palliative care, many doctors will actively ask you or your family of your wishes and such wishes will be detailed in your medical records.

A Living Will can be used alongside the powers you have given to your Welfare Attorney in your Power of Attorney. Where a Welfare Power of Attorney has been granted, your Attorney has the ability to make decisions about the medical treatment that you shall receive if you are unable to make decisions on these matters. Such decisions can be very hard and emotional for an Attorney to make, especially where they are a close family member. A Living Will can be used to provide guidance to your Attorney and family members regarding your end of life wishes in these difficult times.

How can Thorntons help?

If you are thinking about putting in place a Living Will, our expert term of Private Client solicitors can guide you through the process, your options and the best way to proceed.

Call the Thorntons Private Client team on 03330 430150 to find out more about our Living Will services or complete our enquiry form and one of our Private Client solicitors will get in touch.

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