A prominent judge has urged the public to make ‘Living Wills’ during a hearing regarding the care and treatment provided for an elderly man living with dementia.
Judge Mr Justice Francis, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court, said that people should be educated on Living Wills and encouraged to provide written direction about their wishes in the event of them suffering from an incapacitating illness later in life.This would, he explained, help to resolve cases involving sick or elderly people who no longer have
The case, described by the judge as “very, very sad”, was heard at the Court of Protection in London. It involved a dispute between the family of a man who was in a minimally conscious state and hospital staff responsible for his care, and had resulted in “great conflict”. “It should be compulsory that we all have to make Living Wills because these cases would be resolved much more easily,” Mr Justice Francis said. “We all ought to be encouraged to tackle these issues.”
A Living Will enables you to make choices about how you wish to live your life if you become unwell and are not able to make decisions yourself, ensuring that you are provided with treatment that you feel is appropriate and that your friends and family do not have to take difficult decisions on your behalf. A Living Will consists of both an Advance Decision and an Advance Statement. These documents can be drafted together or made separately.
An Advance Decision informs your family and health care professionals about what types of active treatment you do not wish to receive if you become seriously ill. If you make an Advance Decision refusing certain treatments this has to be respected by doctors. This decision is valid indefinitely and, as long as it is properly drafted, it is legally binding.
An Advance Statement provides your family and healthcare professionals with your preferences and wishes about how you want to be cared for if you become unwell. It can provide information about what care and treatment you want to receive, including where and how you wish to be cared for. This statement can be used to outline your values and beliefs, providing clarity and context to an Advance Decision should you make one. An Advance Statement is valid indefinitely, but is not a legally binding document. However, it must be taken into account by those making decisions about your care.
Wilford Smith’s Wills and Estate Planning team can help you to prepare a Living Will in order to clearly set out your wishes regarding any care and treatment you may need later in life. Our solicitors offer clear and practical advice to ensure you are best placed to plan for the future.
Our solicitors are based in London, Sheffield and Manchester, and serve clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 0808 169 5677 to find out how we can help.