Living Will / Advanced Directive

Living Will / Advanced Directive

With a living will, you can:

  • Control the care and treatment you will receive in the future.
  • State your wishes for refusing medical treatment.
  • Include non-medical instructions to those looking after you.
  • Have peace of mind that you have stated and recorded your wishes.

A living will (more commonly known in Scotland as an advanced directive) is entirely different from an ordinary will. For the avoidance of confusion, the rest of this a document listing your wishes for refusing medical treatment if you become terminally ill, or if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself in the future.

So long as you have the mental wherewithal to make your own decisions, you have the absolute right to refuse medical treatment if you so decide. However, where a doctor has assessed you as having lost the mental capacity to make decisions, a specific piece of Scottish legislation will determine your treatment – but your attending doctors and nursing staff must give due consideration to your past and present wishes.

For that reason alone it is prudent to create an advance directive, as it sets down in clear terms your instructions for your treatment.

An advance directive is persuasive of your wishes
For example, if you are admitted to hospital in an unconscious or incapacitated state, your advance directive is a useful document to inform your medical and nursing staff of your wishes and preferences at a time when you are least able to communicate these.

If you subsequently became ill those treating you can review your advance directive and act accordingly, however your wishes can be overruled if those in charge of your care determine that you are at risk, or if compulsory treatment must be pursued.

Your advance directive is persuasive of your intentions and wishes, and it is advisable to create an advance directive now to record your wishes for future care.

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