Statistics say that over 30 million people in the UK haven’t made a Will, which is shocking, but a Living Will is a very different prospect, and it is important to understand the differences.
When you make a Will, it covers all aspects of what you want to happen after you die. You can plan your funeral down to the minutest of details in your Will if you choose to You can decide who you want to inherit what from your estate, make plans about who will care for your children if you die before they reach adulthood and generally make all the decisions you need to about what happens after you die.
However, a Living Will looks at what you want to happen whilst you are still alive, and although the term ‘living will’ has no legal meaning, if you make a Living Will, you are actually making what is known as an advance statement or an advance decision.
This can be very important if you know you are suffering from a life limiting illness and it is therefore important that you know your wishes will be carried out during your lifetime even when you cannot communicate these wishes any longer. This functions in the same way a Will does, as it gives you the security you need to know that your wishes will be carried out after you die.
There are subtle differences between an advance statement and an advance decision. An advance statement looks at your day to day likes and dislikes and your wishes about where you want to be cared for. You can include things such as what food you like, what music you like and what clothes you like to wear.
An advance statement is important and should be taken into account by anyone caring for you, but it is not legally binding.
However, an advance decision is legally binding. It allows you to decide what treatment you want to refuse before you are unable to communicate these wishes. You should be clear about what treatment you do not want and under what circumstances. An advance decision can only be used when you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
If you want to make an advance decision, an advance statement or a Will it is important to get specialist help and advice from a solicitor who will ensure that all of these documents are enforceable, valid and as robust as possible.
This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.
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