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Do I need to talk to my doctor about my Advance Decision (Living Will)?

It’s a good idea to speak to your doctor about your Advance Decision (Living Will) and any wishes you have for your future treatment.

Your doctor can:

  • explain your treatment options so you can decide what is right for you
  • support you to think through any decisions about treatment, making sure you understand how those decisions or choices will affect you
  • help you express your wishes in a way that is clear and easily understood by other healthcare professionals – this is important because it means your Advance Decision is more likely to be followed

Tips for your appointment

  • When you call to make your appointment, tell the GP surgery that you want to talk about your Advance Decision. This will give your doctor time to prepare for your appointment. You might also want to book a double appointment so you don’t feel rushed.
  • Before the appointment, think about any questions you’d like to ask or concerns you have, then write these down and take them with you. You could also take your Advance Decision form with you, too.
  • If you don’t understand something during the appointment, ask your doctor to explain it. You might also like to take someone with you, such as a family member or friend, to help you remember what was said during the appointment.
  • After the appointment, write down or record what you discussed, so you can refer back to it if you need to.

What support should I expect from my doctor?

Any choices you make about your future medical treatment are your own. Your doctor should listen and respect your views about your health and any treatments that you wish to refuse in advance.

If your doctor disagrees with your choices, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should change them. Their role is to provide you with factual and understandable information so that you can make choices that are right for you.


My GP was very supportive and after we discussed why I wished to have an Advance Decision, he told me my medical files would be amended accordingly Roger, Lancashire

Will I need to pay a fee to talk to my doctor?

Doctors sometimes charge for non-medical services such as signing insurance certificates and passport applications. However, doctors should discuss medical treatment and the implications of treatment decisions with their patients as part of their normal everyday practice.

We believe your doctor shouldn’t charge you for an appointment to discuss your Advance Decision with you because it’s every adult’s legal right to refuse medical treatment in advance, as long as they have the capacity to do so.

If your doctor insists on charging you, please let Compassion in Dying know. We can speak to your doctor or the GP surgery and explain that an Advance Decision is about medical treatment and therefore the appointment shouldn’t incur a charge.

Giving your doctor a copy of your Advance Decision (Living Will)

It’s important that you give your doctor a copy of your Advance Decision. This is because it reflects your wishes for medical treatment and this information should be available to any healthcare professional involved in your care.

If you live in England, you can also ask your doctor to add details of your Advance Decision to your Summary Care Record. A is an electronic record of important information about your health that’s accessible to any health or care professional 24 hours a day. Details about your Advance Decision will only be added if you specifically ask your GP to do so.


More information

You can find more helpful tips about talking to your doctor and those close to you about your wishes for treatment and care in our booklet Starting the conversation.