Making an
Advanced Decision
or Living Will

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Wills & Powers of Attorney

Advance Decisions / Living Will

What does it mean?

Advance Decisions, commonly known as ‘Living Wills’ are legally binding decisions refusing the commencing or continuing of specific medical treatments.

An Advance Decision will be made whilst you have capacity and can only be used if you lose capacity to refuse the treatments specified. 

How do I make an Advance Decision?

An Advance Decision must be in writing in order to be legally binding. We recommend that you give copies to your family, friends, and medical professionals.

The Advance Decision must:

  1. Explicitly state the proposed treatment

  2. Identify the circumstances under which you would not want to receive the treatment; and

  3. Be in writing and signed by the decision-maker in the presence of a witness who must also sign and include a statement confirming that the decision is to apply even if the decision-maker’s life is at risk (only if the treatment is life-sustaining)

It can be difficult to think about drafting Advance Decisions covering all treatments especially with rapidly evolving medical technology. Our solicitors here at Goughs can advise you and help you prepare Advance Decisions taking into account all possibilities whilst ensuring they satisfy all the requirements.

Speak to our specialist solicitors today

Your local Will writer since 1882

Popular questions
about Living Wills

When you have capacity, you can decide to refuse all or some medical treatments. At such time as you lose the requisite capacity to make the decision, if you have not made an Advance Decision (or Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney), then healthcare professionals will act on what they consider to be in your best interest, regardless of whether or not you would have wanted the treatment.

To read our factsheet on making an Advanced Decision or a Living Will, please click here.

You cannot use Advance Decisions to:- 

  • Require a healthcare professional to provide a particular medical treatment;
  • Request of authorise illegal acts such as asking for your life to be ended; or 
  • Refuse essential care (for example keeping you warm, sheltered and clean)

However you can direct the professionals by including a non-legally binding request for a particular treatment which they may consider when deciding what treatment is in your best interests.

Under a LPA, the Attorney makes a decision in what they consider to be your best interests even if they contradict your personal, moral or religious views.

With an Advance Decision, you make the decision in advance but possibly without the benefit of all available information.

Yes, but you need to ensure that there is no conflict between the two. If there is, then the most recent document will take precdence.

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Your Wills team

Catherine Cole

Private Client Practitioner

Following a career in hospitality, Catherine began working in private client law in 2002. She joined Goughs in 2017 and within 2 years she was promoted to an Associate

Maxine Coles

Associate Chartered Legal Executive

Maxine specialises in Private Client work, with much of her work being in elderly client care. She has a natural empathy towards clients in what can often be distressing situations.

Samantha Cory


Samantha joined Goughs as a Solicitor in 2020. Samantha has been practicing in Private Client law since 2018, and loves the personal interaction with clients and being able to help them with difficult personal and emotional circumstances.

Annie James


Annie qualified as a Private Client solicitor in 2016 and joined Goughs in February 2020. She specialises in the preparation of Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, preparation and administration of Trusts, and the administration of Estates. Annie prides herself on taking the time to really understand the needs and priorities of her clients.

Rochelle Graham


Rochelle qualified as a Private Client solicitor in September 2019 after gaining valuable experience in the Private Client team. She is now a year qualified and continues to develop and further her knowledge of Private client work.

Luchia Hirst

Associate Solicitor

Luchia has been practicing Private Client law for close to 8 years, and really enjoys the client contact and hands-on nature of this area of practice.

Dawn Moir

Partner (TEP)

Dawn joined in 2003 and became a partner in 2004. Whilst Dawn supports her team with all aspects of estate planning and estate administration, her particular areas of expertise are later life planning & support, and trust creation & administration, including all things tax.

Phillip Bolton

Partner & Head of Private Wealth

Phillip is a Partner and Head of the Private Wealth Team at the firm. His practice encompasses all aspects of private client work, with a particular interest in complex Wills, wealth preservation, tax mitigation, and estate planning.

Emma Taylor

Partner & Head of Private Client

Emma began her life at Goughs in 2008 as a Solicitor. Now, with over 15 years of experience, she is a Partner and Head of the Private Client Department. Emma deals with all areas of Private Client work but has a particular interest in Trusts and Complex Property Ownership.

Trish Watkins

Senior Associate (CILEx)

As a Private Client lawyer, Trish always had a strong empathy for the elderly and vulnerable and prides herself in being able to engage with them and support them through what can be very difficult times.

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Related Pages

If you become unable to make decisions about your own affairs a lasting power of attorney (LPA) will ensure that a person you trust receives legal permission to make decisions for you.

It is important to keep your Will updated to ensure it continues to reflect your circumstances. Any changes in your personal circumstances should trigger the review of your Will.

Making a Will

Transfer of Equity

Amending a Will

Wills & Powers of Attorney