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Advance Decision (Living Will)
If you wish to refuse a particular type of treatment, or are looking to ensure a decision about your wellbeing is agreed, then you may want to make a living will. JMW's team of experienced solicitors can help you every step of the way throughout this legal process.
The term 'advance decision' is a living will. This dictates the types of medical treatment you would refuse should you become unable to communicate a decision about your wellbeing in the future.
This legal agreement has the same effect as a refusal of treatment by a person who is of sound mind. This means that if the treatment is given, the medical professional in charge could face civil liability or prosecution.
Where to begin
When a person becomes unwell, the best treatment option is usually decided by the person themselves, as well as the medical professional involved. However, in some cases individuals are admitted to hospital while unconscious, or when they are unable to make their own decision about the treatment.
This can happen, for example, if you have a car accident, are suffering from Alzheimer's, or have a stroke - meaning you lack the mental capacity to make or communicate a decision.
Making a living will
An advance decision must meet the following criteria:
- The person involved must be over 18, and have the mental capacity to make the decision
- A decision regarding which type of treatment would be refused must be specified
- The circumstances in which the refusal would be made must also be decided
- It must be agreed that the decision would still stand, even if your life was at risk
- The decision must not have been changed since it was finalised
- It must be in writing and signed in the presence of a witness
- The individual involved must not have been under influence, or suffered harassment, from an external party when making the decision
If you have strong feelings about a particular type of treatment, an advance decision may be the best option for you. This could include procedures like a blood transfusion or an amputation. Similarly, individuals who have dementia or a terminal illness may want to specify which types of treatment they would not want to receive.
An advance decision could also include:
- Treatment you would be happy to have
- The treatment you would want to undergo
- Procedures that you would prefer not to have
- The person whom you would like to be contacted about your treatment when a decision needs to be made