Wills, Living Wills and Advanced Decisions

Video 18 of 20
1 min 28 sec
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A will is a legal document that sets forth the wishes regarding the distribution of property, belongings, and the care of any children under the age of 18. To ensure that these very particular wishes are carried out, the will is set forth in writing and signed by the individual and their chosen witnesses. If a will is not made in this way then it is not guaranteed, and there is a chance that the contents of the will can be legally challenged.

A living will is where individuals express their wishes about how they want to be treated and cared for in certain situations, just in case there comes a time when they lack the capacity to make or communicate their decisions. The term ‘living will’ does not actually have any legal meaning, but usually refers to an advanced decision about a particular person’s care in the future. An advanced decision allows you to refuse treatment in the future if at some point you lose mental capacity, and this falls under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. However, an advanced decision cannot be carried out before the patient has been deemed to have lost their mental capacity. It also cannot be used to refuse the offer of food or drink by mouth, or basic care that is essential to keep the individual comfortable, in whatever stage of life they are currently in.