Living Will (Vital Will) and advance directives for medical decisions in Spain

If you want to decide about your medical treatment in case of illness or inhability to express your decisions, you should sign a Living Will or Vital Will in Spain.

How is “Living Will” in Spanish?

An Advance Decision or Living Will is called testamento vital o testament de voluntades anticipadas in Spanish.

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will or Vital Will is a document in which you leave a written record of your will in relation to the medical treatments you wish to undergo or not, in case of illness, in case you later become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself (physical and / or mental deterioration or consciousness), or the destiny of your body or your organs once you deceased.

A Living Will can only be used if you can’t make or communicate a decision for yourself.

What does a Living Will include?

The main provisions in a Living Will are:

  • The instructions and limits on the medical care that you want to receive or not, in the event of suffering from an irreversible disease (that has no cure) or terminal disease (which will cause death in all probability).
  • At the time of your death, if you want to be buried or cremated.
  • If you want to donate your organs when you die.
  • Who is the authorized representative to help interpret, where appropriate, the instructions contained in the document and to make the corresponding decisions, when they have not been foreseen.

In conclusion, a Living Will is a document that allows its author to make future healthcare decisions that Health professionals will follow as they must be respectful of the patient’s wishes.

Who can make a Living Will?

In order to make a Living Will you must:

  • have reached legal age (18 years old).
  • find yourself in full use of your mental faculties
  • and express yourself freely, that is, without constraints.

People who has been legally incapacitated can grant a Living Will as long as the sentence does not expressly forbid it and if they are capable at the time of doing so.

How can a Living Will be done?

A Living Will can be done in one of these 3 ways:

  • In front of a Notary; by signing a deed.
  • In front of 3 witnesses; who have to sign the document. Witnesses cannot be parents, children, uncles or nephews, or have an economic relationship with the person making the Living Will.
  • In front of a civil servant of the Register.  

Where can a Living Will be registered?

Once the Living Will is legalized, it must be registered at the “Living Will Register” («Registro de Voluntades Anticipadas«) located in each area of Spain (comunidad autónoma).  Each register depends to the Department of Health.

This registration is mandatory in order to give public knowledge and publicity to the Living Will.

When is a Living Will valid?

The Living Will is valid since you sign the document.

Can I change or cancel my Living Will?

The answer is yes.

You can change or cancel your Living Will whenever you wish.

The process will be the same as when doing it.

A Living Will example:

“ FIRST.- He orders that if he is presented with a situation in which, as a consequence of his physical and / or mental deterioration or consciousness, he cannot personally make decisions about the medical care to be received for the restoration of his health and / or the continuation of his life, in no case, be kept alive by artificial means such as life support techniques, intravenous fluids, drugs or artificial feeding, if there is not enough evidence with the scientific knowledge of the moment, of his recoverability, ad integrum, with acceptable quality of life.

He asks for the necessary drugs to be given to alleviate his physical or mental illness caused by the disease or by the lack of fluids or food, although his life may be shortened as a result.

In the event that the professionals who attend him excuse compliance with these provisions due to conscientious objection, he orders that his care should be transferred to another professional or team that can comply with them.

Likewise, he totally releases the doctors and other health personal and the Center in which it may be found, from all civil or criminal liability that could be claimed from them for the fact of carrying out the indications of this statement, especially excluding their eventual beneficiaries of any form of compensation arising from compliance with the provisions of this statement

SECOND: He orders to be cremated at the time of his death, inexcusably.

THIRD: Heorders that all organs of his body be donated at the time of his death

FOURTH: He orders that his will be fully respected. —

FIFTH: The appearing party requests that an authorized copy of this document be sent to the Registration point located at the Department of Health, Patient Care Coordination Service, at ….

I read this will to its grantor, after waiving his right to do it himself, that I have learned. It is ratified in its content and signs with me”.

REUTERS SOLICITORS can help you with your Living Will in Spain.

Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.