Advance decisions - living wills

An advance decision, sometimes referred to as a living will, allows you to communicate your wishes should you become unable to. They allow you to refuse treatment, even if this might lead to your death.

An advance decision is legally binding meaning your loved ones must adhere to your wishes and instructions.

When making an advance decision you should think about any treatments you would not want to receive and in which situations. You should discuss your decision with a healthcare professional such as a GP, who knows your medical history. You may also consider talking through your advance decision with loved ones so that they are aware and prepared should the time come that it is needed.

It is good practice to have your advance decision written down and copies given to your GP, any care professionals in your life and loved ones. This document should be regularly reviewed in case you change your mind and any alterations dated and signed.

An advance decision will only be used if you lose the ability to make or communicate any decisions concerning your treatment.

What’s the difference between an advance decision and an advance statement?

An advance statement, unlike an advance decision, is not legally binding. An advance statement explains your likes, dislikes and wishes towards the end of your life.

And advance statement can include things like:

- where you would like to be cared for
- who you would like to visit you
- your religious beliefs
- things you enjoy doing
- foods you like
- who you would like to be consulted should your care needs change.

An advance statement should also be circulated to your GP and those caring for you.

Next steps

Making a will Image

Making a will

Having a will is an important step in end of life planning. It is the document that gives clear instructions for your loved ones or executors about what you want to happen to you money, property and assets.

Let’s talk about death Image

Let’s talk about death

When it comes to end of life planning, having someone you can discuss your wishes with is an important part. Talking to those close to you can help everyone understand your feelings and allows them to voice any concerns they have.

Planning your funeral Image

Planning your funeral

When it comes to planning your funeral there are lots of options available to consider. A funeral director will be able to help plan both the practical and personal elements but we’ve covered some of the things you might want to think about in advance.