What is a Halachic Living Will?
A Halachic Living Will is a simple document that allows you to state which representative you wish doctors to ask regarding your end of life preferences; should you G-d forbid, not be able to make decisions on your own. It also states that you are Jewish and you wish all decisions to be made in accordance with Jewish Law (Halacha). Additionally you can name a Rabbi that your representative and doctors should consult when making life-altering decisions.
The UK Mental Capacity Act (2005) is a law that requires all health and care staff to take a patient’s religious views and beliefs into account when fulfilling instructions that a patient has made. This applies specifically with regard to how patients wish to be cared for, or who they wish to have consulted on their behalf so as to make sure that their preferences and wishes are understood. The Halachic Living Will provides an excellent way to ensure that your family and Rabbi will be involved so that your wishes are known.
Who can I appoint as my representative?
You can appoint any adult over 18. This can be your child, spouse or trusted friend. It is advisable to confirm that they are willing to accept the position.You can also appoint a Rabbi of your choice if you wish, but once again it is advisable to check if they would be prepared to respond to complex Halachic questions which could arise. You can also choose a Beis Din. If no specific person is chosen then the Halachic Living Will directs the doctor to contact the London Beth Din by default.
Who is the Halachic Living Will recognised by?
The Halachic Living Will was developed and written with the guidance of leading Rabbonim and legal experts in England and conforms to the UK Mental Capacity Act. It has been endorsed by Machzikei Hadass, Manchester Beth Din, London Beth Din, Union of Hebrew congregations, Gateshead Rav and many others. Additionally, Salford City Council and most hospitals also recognise this as an official document. It is important to have the signing of your signature witnessed by a professional who can check for mental capacity. You are advised to check at least once every 3 years to see if you wish to update any details.You can also complete a Lasting Power of Attorney which gives even more power to your chosen representative. However this must be registered with the Office of Public Guardian. Their details can be accessed here.
What do I do with my Halachic Living Will once it’s been filled in?
Keep a copy of the completed form for yourself to show hospital staff and give a copy to your GP or Care Home. You may also be able to include the details from the Halachic Living Will in your Advance Care documents provided by the NHS or Social Services.