Most people are aware that a Property and Financial Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to appoint Attorneys to make financial decisions on your behalf. Fewer people realise that it is also possible to make a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to enable your appointed Attorneys to make decisions about your health and welfare if you lose the mental capacity to decide those things for yourself.
Health and welfare decisions are varied – from where you get your hair cut to life-sustaining medical decisions. None of us knows which decisions may need to be made for us in the future. To ensure that your wishes are continued if you lose your mental capacity, it is key to put a health and welfare LPA in place.
Whilst healthcare professionals and social services would, in most circumstances, consult with a person’s next of kin in respect of these decisions, bear in mind:
- the persons they consult may not be the ones you would wish to be consulted; and
- although they should act in your best interests, those decision-makers do not know you personally and would not know the type of decisions which you would make.
If there is no health and welfare LPA in place, the risk is that those decision-makers may make choices contrary to your wishes. Your next of kin could object, but there is no obligation to take those objections into account. Your family members may be left feeling unable to provide help at a time when you most need it.
Making a Health and Welfare LPA is almost a form of ‘insurance’, which you hope you will never have to rely on. But if it is ever required, you will have the peace of mind that your Attorneys have been chosen by you, can make decisions about your health and welfare and are able to follow your wishes.
For more information, or some preliminary confidential advice contact a member of our Private Client team from your local office.