What are living Wills?
- a statement expressing your views about how you would like to be treated in the future
- a Will of sorts but applies whilst you are alive not after your death
- essentially an expression of your wishes set out in advance of illness at a time when you have the mental capacity to understand the issues involved and give clear directions
- used to outline circumstances in which you'd like medical treatment withheld e.g. if you suffer from some debilitating illness or condition
If you have a Power of Attorney in place there may be some guidance provided for your Attorneys but it is unlikely to cover the situations envisaged by a Living Will to ensure your doctor and family know your wishes.
What should I consider?
- it is important to seek legal advice and to consult with your GP and family
- doctors have to act in the best interests of their patients and if you have clearly outlined your wishes that can be taken into consideration along with your medical notes
- legal papers should reflect your attitude to ill health and disabilities to guide all those involved in your future care.
- people are living longer, medical science is advancing at a rapid rate and the prospects of living a long and meaningful life are greater than they have every been
What lies ahead?
There are difficult moral and legal issues to be grasped and public opinion is moving towards individuals having a greater say in how they should be treated (or have treatment withheld) especially in the later stages of life and indeed on matters of assisted dying. The Scottish Parliament will, I am sure, revisit this issue in the coming years.
When reviewing an individual's will, I always ask them to consider how they would feel about their lives in a variety of circumstances; from severe coma through various degrees of mental and physical incapacity and ill health. Their wishes are then recorded in the Living Will - so it is a very personal and individual document.
If you don't already have a living will and would like to discuss how to go about recording your wishes via one in Scotland, please contact our experienced team.