What is a ‘living will’?

The term “living will” is a colloquial term to describe a document which gives directions about how you wish your end of life to be managed.

Rather than creating an advanced care directive (which is generally quite detailed and specific and done with your GP or specialist doctor), it is not uncommon to include certain clauses in an Appointment of Enduring Guardian which give directions about end of life management.

Two such clauses are:

I require that my enduring guardian exercise his functions subject to the following directions:

  • in the event of my suffering a major medical malfunction such as a heart attack, stroke or brain haemorrhage of such severity that there is no prospect of my recovering to live a rational and independent life, I do not wish to be resuscitated or kept alive by artificial means, but wish to be allowed to die and to depart in peace.
  • I also request that if I should suffer a long term terminal illness such as cancer, I shall receive whatever quantity of drugs that may be required to keep me free from pain or distress even if the moment of death is thereby hastened.

While there are legal complexities in relation to such clauses, they do at the very least make the wishes of the Appointor clear to family members (especially). The ‘classic case’ where it might prove helpful is where (for example) an overseas resident son flies in and tells terminally ill mother’s doctor to “do anything to keep mum alive” whereas daughter who has day to day care of mum is appointed Enduring Guardian which includes the above clauses.

Telemon Lawyers form Appointment of Enduring Guardian will include the above clauses if required. If you have particular questions or circumstances please contact us for specific advice.

Relevant cases:

Judas would not have been an appropriate Enduring Guardian: Giotto di Bondone – The Arrest of Christ (Kiss of Judas)