Advance decision (Living wills) - frequently asked questions

Read the most common queries we receive about advance decisions (Living wills).

How long is my advance decision valid for, and do I have to renew it?

Your advance decision will be valid from the date you sign it. It is a good idea to review it regularly and, if necessary, revise it to make sure that it still reflects your views. However, your advance decision will continue to be valid even if you don’t review it. If you do revise your advance decision, remember to sign and date it with the current date and get it witnessed again. Make sure you know who has copies of your advance decision so that you can give them the revised version.

Do I have to give my advance decision form to my solicitor?

No. An advance decision is entirely separate from other legal documents such as your will. However, you may want your solicitor to hold it for safekeeping.

Does my GP have to sign the advance decision form?

No. It is not necessary for your GP to sign your advance decision, but it is useful. If you discuss your advance decision with your GP and ask them to sign it, they will understand your wishes better, and can then be called upon if necessary to confirm that you had mental capacity at the time you made the decision. It is also important to make sure that a copy of your advance decision is placed with your medical records and to make sure that the relevant people know that it is there.

Can my family overturn an advance decision?

No. An advance decision is your decision, and cannot be overturned by anyone, unless:

  • you have signed a health and welfare Lasting power of attorney after you made the advance decision, and gave the attorney the power to accept or refuse treatment that the advance decision relates to
  • you decide for yourself not to follow the advance decision at a time when you have the mental capacity to do so
  • you made your advance decision at a time when you did not have the mental capacity to do so
  • you made the advance decision under pressure from others, and so it was not valid
  • you have done something clearly inconsistent with your advance decision
  • there are reasonable grounds for believing that circumstances exist that you didn’t anticipate at the time of the advance decision and that would have affected your decision.
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