When it comes to Lasting Power of Attorneys, it is more common to think about managing someone’s financial affairs rather than their health. Indeed in 2015 there were 134,311 more applications for Property and Financial Affairs LPAs than Health and Welfare LPAs.
But the difference that a Health and Welfare attorney could make is significant. It would mean that you could be sure that somebody was making decisions about your welfare based around your wishes – this could be about what sort of residential care you live in, what treatment you have, or what you eat.
There is also the option for you to allow your attorney to decide about whether you would want life sustaining treatment such as resuscitation.
Similar to the Property and Financial Affairs LPA, if you want to appoint someone responsible for decisions around your health, you would decide on an attorney(s) and then organise for the document to be signed, being witnessed by a certificate provider. Once this is done, the document must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
However, a significant difference between the Property and Financial Affairs LPA and the Health and Welfare LPA, is that the later would only take affect from the point that you lost mental capacity and were unable to make decisions for yourself.
If you lost mental capacity without a health and welfare LPA in place, decisions about your care would initially be made by those looking after you such as carers, social workers and medical professionals. If your family disagreed with the people looking after you, they would not have the final word legally. In such instances, disputes would go to the Court of Protection for a resolution.
It is also worth mentioning here that applications to the Court of Protection about health and welfare LPAs are often lengthier than applications about Property and Finance LPAs. Before the Court will consider granting someone authority to make decisions about another’s welfare, they first decide whether to give permission for the application to be heard in the first place.
So if you feel strongly about certain matters around your welfare, and have somebody that you trust completely to ensure that those wishes are carried out, arrange for a Health and Welfare LPA.
For more information get in touch with Louise Williams at Hutchinson Thomas on 01639 645061.