HM Insights

Coronavirus: why making a Living Will can make sure your wishes are known to family and loved ones

It has been reported that while there has been no updated guidance given to GPs regarding the use of Do Not Resuscitate orders (DNRs), there may be more patients wishing to discuss this as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Here we take a look at the process of making a Living Will in Scotland.

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What happens if you are unable to communicate your end of life wishes due to illness or injury?

No one likes to think about being terminally ill or dying so an individual's wishes around this issue can be left unsaid.

It is often the case that when decisions come to be made about end of life care, an individual can be too ill to communicate but by planning ahead you can ensure that your wishes are known to those caring for you.

By making a Living Will or 'advance directive', a simple document recording your wishes for end of life care, you can share your views with your family/healthcare team on how you wish to be treated, should you be unable to communicate due to illness or injury.

Legal status of Living Wills

In Scotland, Living Wills are not legally binding but they do provide guidance to your family/healthcare team about how you would wish to be treated.

Living Wills are beneficial because they:

  1. give you a chance to convey your wishes if you are unable to communicate; remove potential burden from family
  2. members who may be in a situation of crisis or grief;
  3. help avoid family disagreements/conflict; and
  4. give you peace of mind

Although the Assisted Dying Bill "to enable competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request specified assistance to end their own life" had its first reading in the House of Lords on 28 January 2020, Living Wills are presently not used to give effect to any intervention with the express aim of ending life, such as euthanasia or assisted suicide.

While a Living Will which contains a request for a particular treatment is not enforceable, a Living Will can be used to refuse specific treatments or procedures should you suffer from an incurable or irreversible illness, such as, the use of ventilator, invasive surgery if there is no prospect of recovering or potentially your views on the use of hydration and nutrition to prolong life.

Is it easy to make a Living Will?

Anyone over 16 can make a Living Will, provided that they understand the nature and extent of what it is to make a Living Will.

The Living Will needs to be signed and dated by you and witnessed by an independent adult.

A copy should be given to your solicitor, your GP, any other healthcare professionals you have an association with and your family.

Get in touch – we're here to help

This is a highly emotive subject, probably more so at the present time. Our team of experienced solicitors are on hand to discuss this with you in the sensitive and supportive manner it requires.

We're here to help

If you would like to discuss making a Living Will or a Will or to find out more, please contact our private client team.

We have solicitors and offices across the country ready to help. 

We can provide the assistance you need to protect your assets and your loved ones. This will allow you to put your mind at ease, knowing everything is in hand.

Useful Links

MAKING A WILL IN SCOTLAND

CORONAVIRUS ADVICE HUB

POWER OF ATTORNEY IN SCOTLAND