What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a decision or directive which allow you to decide which treatment you wish to refuse in the event that you lose mental capacity or become terminally ill.
Unlike a power of attorney or LPA you cannot nominate someone to make decisions on your behalf. A Living Will needs to clearly state what treatment you would like to receive and what you would definitely not, such as "do not resuscitate".
When a Living Will has been made it is important that the relevant people also have a copy, that is, your GP and the hospital that is treating you. It is also important to carry a copy of the Living Will with you at all times and to discuss your wishes with your family. Without a Living Will medical professionals have no choice but to treat you.
GP's, Hospitals and all medical services will acknowledge your Living Will and will act according to the wishes you have set out as long as they are not unreasonable or go against the law of England and Wales, even if this goes against the wishes of other members of your family.
If you're thinking of making a Power of Attorney or LPA on the grounds of health and welfare, think carefully before making a Living Will. A health and welfare LPA would invalidate a Living Will as it allows you to appoint someone who can make those decisions for you.
So is a Living Will necessary?
A Living Will puts you in control. A health and welfare LPA allows you to nominate someone else to make those decisions. The necessity of Living Will simply boils down to what is right for you and how you feel about giving someone else the control to make decisions. Both are legally binding and recognized.
For more information on Wills, Living Wills or LPA's