What is a Living Will?

Guide to Living Wills and the circumstances in which a Living Will may be advisable

A Living Will is a document which lets you specify in advance what medical treatment or care you would or would not like to receive in the event that you become ill and unable to make decisions or communicate your wishes – suffer a stroke or develop dementia, for example.

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A Living Will can include 'advance decisions' and 'advance statements'. Advance decisions allow you to refuse treatment for any reason and can include the decision to refuse life-saving treatment such as being resuscitated, fed by a tube or given certain drugs that keep you alive. These decisions can be legally binding if they are still valid and applicable at the time the relevant treatment is being considered.

Advance statements are general statements of your wishes and views and can be used to specify how you would like to be cared for in the event that you become ill. This could include where you would like to live, the sort of food you would like to eat and the type of treatment or care you would like to receive. Advance statements are not legally binding, but will be taken into account by those responsible for your care.

The information on this page applies to England and Wales only.

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