A Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that enables a person (known as the Donor) to appoint another person (known as the Attorney) to make decisions on their behalf in relation to health and welfare matters. The LPA takes effect once it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), and if the Donor were to become mentally incapable in the future.
A separate Property & Financial Affairs LPA can be made appointing the same or different Attorney to deal with financial matters whilst the Donor is mentally capable or incapable.
A Health & Welfare LPA allows the Attorney to make decisions on medical treatment and the provision of care, but also includes wider decisions such as who the Donor has contact with and where they live. The Attorney can make decisions on life-sustaining medical treatment if the Donor has provided for this in the LPA.
So why should a Health & Welfare LPA be put in place?
1. Keep control
There is no automatic legal right for your family or friends to make medical or care decisions on your behalf, even if they are your spouse or child. However, by signing a Health & Welfare LPA, you can appoint someone of your choosing to make medical and care decisions for you, and so taking that power away from doctors and social workers.
2. Protect your best interests
If you are unable to make medical and care decisions for yourself, your Attorney is there to act in your best interests, taking into account all that they know or you have communicated to them about your feelings, wishes and beliefs. This could include consulting with others interested in your health and welfare.
3. Avoid conflict
If there is potential for disagreement amongst family members - whether that is between your spouse and children from a previous relationship, or otherwise - then stating in advance who has the authority to make medical and care decisions for you can be extremely helpful. This is especially so when it is considered that in the event of disagreement, Social Services can step in and make decisions which relate to your living arrangements and medical care etc.
4. Save time and money
Without a Health & Welfare LPA in place, in certain circumstances an application to the Court of Protection may be required to appoint a Deputy to make such decisions for you. This is an expensive and time-consuming process.
If the Court determines that you are not mentally capable of making decisions for yourself, then it will appoint a Deputy to act in your best interests, which could be the Local Authority. Having a Health & Welfare LPA in place avoids this situation.
5. Be prepared
Planning in advance means that you will be prepared for all eventualities. By creating a legal document, you can have some certainty over your healthcare should you reach a point where you can no longer make decisions independently. Postponing making these arrangements could mean that you miss the opportunity to make your wishes known.
For more information regarding Health & Welfare LPAs or to arrange an appointment to discuss making an LPA, please call 01733 888888 or visit www.buckles-law.co.uk