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What’s the difference between an Advance Statement and an Advance Decision (Living Will)?

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An Advance Decision (Living Will) allows you to record any medical treatments that you don’t want to be given in the future, in case you later become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself. The legal name is an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment and it’s sometimes called a Living Will or an Advance Directive.

An Advance Statement allows you to record your wishes, feelings, beliefs and values in case you later become unwell and need care or medical treatment.

An Advance Decision only covers refusals of medical treatment, whereas an Advance Statement can include any information that you feel is important in relation to your health or care.

Can I have both an Advance Statement and an Advance Decision (Living Will)?

Yes. If you feel that there are situations in which you wouldn’t want medical treatment then you should make an Advance Decision.

If you’ve made an Advance Decision then it’s a good idea to make an Advance Statement as it helps your healthcare team to get a better understanding of your wishes when they need to make decisions in your best interests. This means that if you’re in a situation that isn’t specified in your Advance Decision, the doctors treating you are more likely to be able to make a decision that reflects what you want.

If you wish to complete both an Advance Decision and an Advance Statement, then Compassion in Dying’s free Advance Decision form contains a section that allows you to express your wishes in this way. You can also make an Advance Decision online at MyDecisions.