Do you need a Living Will?

Published: April 22, 2024

In our recent insights, we have looked at the different estate planning options open to you and this month, we explore whether or not a Living Will is right for you.

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will (also known as an Advance Directive) is a document used to record your wishes in relation to medical treatment that you may receive in the future if you ever are unable to make or communicate such decisions yourself. Typically, it will focus on end-of-life care and the treatment you would and would not wish to receive. 

What are the benefits of having a Living Will?

A Living Will can give you peace of mind knowing that your wishes in relation to life-sustaining treatment have been clearly documented for the benefit of your family, your Attorneys and your medical team. While thinking about your medical decisions in this type of scenario can be difficult, planning ahead is important to ensure your wishes are known. 

If you have clear views as to what treatment you would or would not wish to receive in an end of life scenario, documenting these can help alleviate the burden on your family and Attorneys who may otherwise be asked to input into this difficult decision.

Living Wills cannot be used to request certain treatments or to attempt to authorise any form of assisted suicide.  Scotland’s assisted dying laws remain under review. This could see a change to the law and potentially a change to the way Living Wills are used in the future.

Is a Living Will legally binding?

Living Wills are currently not legally binding in Scotland. They are, however, highly persuasive for medical professionals. Ultimately it is up to your doctors to determine whether or not the Living Will is to be implemented in practice.


It is important that those close to you are aware that the document is in place in case it should ever be required. Once a Living will is signed, we recommend that you let your family, Attorneys and friends know. We also suggest that you pass a copy to your GP for noting on your medical records. 

A Living Will can be cancelled at any time should you change your mind, as long as you continue to retain legal capacity. We also recommend that you review the document every few years to ensure that it continues to reflect your wishes.

Do I need one?

Whether to put in place a Living Will or not is very much a personal decision. While we recommend everyone has a Will and a Power of Attorney, the decision as to whether or not to proceed with a Living Will comes down to your own views, which are often shaped by previous personal experiences.

If you feel that a Living Will is right for you, please get in touch and we will be happy to guide you through the process.

If you have any questions, doubts or concerns around making a Living Will, please contact our Private Client team who will be happy to assist.

Further reading: Do you have a Will? Find out why it’s important to put one in place and keep it updated here.
Further reading: Trusts and Succession (Scotland) Act 2024 – learn more about the changes and what these mean for you here.