In the midst of Covid-19 we are reminded more than ever of the need to plan ahead. In these unprecedented times, you may find yourself in a position where your health deteriorates suddenly and you are too unwell to make decisions about your own affairs.
Background to Lasting Powers of Attorneys
Whilst Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) have been available since 2007 and many are aware of the benefits of the Property and Financial Affairs document, we have found that people are more hesitant to have the Health and Welfare LPA prepared.
Perhaps because the LPA for Property and Financial Affairs followed on from Enduring Powers of Attorney (which covered the same decisions and was available from the mid 1980’s) people seem more comfortable with this application and the areas that it covers.
In it’s basic form, an LPA allows you to give someone (or some people) of your choice, that you trust, the legal authority to act on your behalf in relation to your affairs in the event that you are no longer able to make decisions (i.e. you lack mental capacity).
The LPA for Health and Welfare allows your chosen attorneys to make decisions about your daily routine (what you eat, wear and who can visit) and also make decisions about your care (including where you live) and life sustaining treatment. This document can only be used if you have lost mental capacity and are no longer able to make decisions in relation to your health and welfare.
When would I need an LPA for Health and Welfare?
The LPA for Health and Welfare is particularly important if;
- you have strong feelings about whether you wish to receive life sustaining treatment;
- you would prefer to live at home or a residential care home (and if in a care home which one); or
- your family are likely to argue over who should make decisions on your behalf.
What if I don’t have an LPA for Health and Welfare in place?
If you were to lose mental capacity (and therefore cannot make decisions for yourself) and didn’t have a LPA for Health and Welfare in place, the risk is that you may have people making decisions for you that you have not appointed and that you do not want to do so, and those that you may have wanted to make such decisions may not have the ability to stop them.
- You may be kept on life support or resuscitated against your wishes.
- Only your legal next of kin would be consulted about decisions.
- Social Services could make decisions about where you live and the level of care that you require.
- The Court of Protection may have to become involved if there is a dispute with regards to decision making on your behalf which can be expensive and time consuming.
Can I still make my own decisions / does this take anything away from me?
Having an LPA for Health and Welfare does not stop you making your own decisions whilst you have mental capacity to do so.
Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare gives your attorneys the legal authority to act on your behalf in your best interest once your have lost mental capacity.
If you would like to discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney for either Health and Welfare or Property and Financial Affairs please contact our Private Client team on 01763 241 261.