High Court Judge calls for campaign to educate people about Living Wills

A prominent High Court Judge has said that a new campaign needs to be launched to raise public awareness of Living Wills.

Judge Justice Francis, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, has voiced concerns that the documents – which enable people to make advance statements of their wishes in case they are affected by an incapacitating illness in later life – are seldom promoted in the public domain.

As a result of this, the leading Judge has said that public awareness is worryingly limited.

He has reportedly suggested that an advertising campaign on a similar scale to those launched by the NHS to promote organ donations in recent years is needed in order to change this for the better.

His comments, which were made during a recent Court of Protection dispute regarding the treatment of an anonymous pensioner living with dementia, come at a time when research suggests that British adults are continually ignoring the importance of planning for all eventualities in their future.

Recent research found that 85 per cent of UK adults do not have a lasting power of attorney (LPA) – another important document which can help to make sensible provisions for those who may be likely to encounter an incapacitating illness in later life.

Meanwhile, separate studies suggest that Britons are increasingly ignoring Wills and Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning altogether – despite the fact that leaving such planning too late can often result in disastrous consequences for families.

Britons are being urged to seek the advice of a specialist Private Client solicitor, who can assess each client’s individual circumstances and advise on Living Wills, LPAs and any other options which might be appropriate.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.