This section explains what an Advance Decision (Living Will) is, what it can and cannot be used for, and how to make one. The information is for people living in England and Wales.
Advance Decision (Living Will) – what is it?
An Advance Decision allows you to write down any treatments that you don’t want to have in the future, in case you later become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself.
It will only be used if you can’t make or communicate a decision for yourself. The legal name is an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment, and it’s also sometimes called a Living Will or an Advance Directive.
Advance Decisions are legally binding in England and Wales, as long as they meet certain requirements. This means that if a healthcare professional knows you’ve made an Advance Decision, they have to follow it. If they ignore an Advance Decision then they could be taken to court.
In this section:
- What’s an Advance Decision used for?
- How do I make an Advance Decision?
- How will people know about my Advance Decision?
- Is my Advance Decision legally binding?
- Do I need an Advance Decision if I already have a Living Will?
- When should I review and update my Advance Decision?
- Do I need to talk to my doctor about my Advance Decision?
- What to do if there’s a disagreement about an Advance Decision?
More informationIf you live in Scotland, read our information about Advance Directives or Welfare Power of Attorney. If you live in Northern Ireland, please see our information about planning ahead here.
We also have a separate factsheet for people with a mental illness, or a history of mental illness, who want to understand when their Advance Decision will be followed.