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Living wills explained

Find out how to refuse medical treatment by creating an advance decision, or living will.

In this article
What is a living will?
How to make an advance decision

What is a living will?

You may wish to outline your wishes for refusing medical treatment if you become terminally ill, or if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself.

In order to do this, you can draw up a legal document known as an 'advance decision' - formerly called a 'living will'.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, this document is called an 'advance directive' and is not legally-binding. 

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How to make an advance decision

Within an advance decision, you can list specific medical treatments you refuse to receive and outline situations in which these treatments should not be provided.

An advance decision is legally-binding but will only be implemented if you lose capacity or cannot communicate your wishes.

It does not give someone else power to make other medical decisions on your behalf - for that, you'll need to put in place a lasting Power of Attorney.

Refusing life-sustaining treatment may lead to your death, so there are a lot of factors that should be taken into account before creating an advance decision.

To find out how to make your decision legally-binding, and what you need to weigh up, read our guide on advance decisions on Which? Later Life Care.