What is a Living Will?

A living Will is a document that sets out a patient’s wishes regarding health care and how they want to be treated if they become seriously ill and unable to make or communicate their own choices. Living wills are also called active declarations.

Such a document may be helpful to relatives and to medical professionals in the case of a seriously ill and incapacitated patient. Living wills are a part of planning what to do in the event of serious illness or disability. The phrase has been used as a handy media label to such an extent that many people focus on the document itself, rather than the actual process of advance care planning.

Living wills were first proposed in 1969 by the American lawyer Louis Kutner as a simple device to allow patients to say no to life-sustaining treatment that they did not want, even if they were too ill to communicate.

They dealt with the problem that doctors often found it hard to accept that patients might prefer death to treatment, especially when the patients could not speak for themselves.

Early attempts at using them revealed many problems in translating the wishes in the documents into specific actions for doctors to take about medical treatment.

Since then the documents have been greatly improved by the development of standards for the valid framing of topics and the elicitation and recording of opinions, wishes, and reasoning.

For more information on living wills please fill out an enquiry form or call us on 0151 735 1000 and speak to one of our Liverpool solicitors today.



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