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Make end-of-life wishes known with a French ‘living will’

Download the free government template with no lawyer required

Any adult can make a living will, called directives anticipées, and lodge it with their GP in France Pic: Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock

Any adult can make a ‘living will’ in France to clarify their end-of-life wishes if they find themselves seriously injured or terminally ill and unable to express themselves.

In its absence, close family or friends will be consulted, especially anyone you have designated your personne de confiance – a trusted person, named to help you if you are ill.

What does a ‘living will’ do?

A living will can address such matters as limiting or stopping treatment if in a vegetative state, whether you would want to be transferred to intensive care to keep you alive at all costs, whether to use artificial respiration, or to undertake surgeries, or instead to have palliative care.

Doctors will respect your written wishes unless they agree they are manifestly inappropriate to the medical situation or because a situation is so critically urgent there is no time to consult them.

Read more: What is the French equivalent to a ‘lasting power of attorney’?

How to draw up a ‘living will’

Anyone can make a living will, called directives anticipées, although authorisation is needed for a person who is sous tutelle (under legal guardianship). 

Download a template here

The document must be signed and dated, including your date and place of birth and full name. 

A procedure involving two witnesses is possible if you cannot write.

Your living will can be lodged with your GP, personne de confiance, another family member, or with your retirement home or hospital. 

It can be changed at any time.

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