Do you have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) or a Lasting Power of Attorney Property and Financial Affairs (LPAPFA)? What about a Lasting Power of Attorney Health and Welfare (LPAH&W)?
EPAs only cover decisions regarding your property and financial affairs and not decisions regarding your health and welfare. Since the introduction of LPAs in 2007 it has been possible to appoint attorneys to make decisions regarding both your property and financial affairs and your health and welfare and yet many more LPAPFAs have been registered than LPAH&Ws. However, the number of LPAH&Ws being registered is increasing as more people begin to recognise the importance of them.
How do LPAH&Ws work?
As with LPAPFAs, LPAH&Ws enable you to appoint a person (or people) of your choice as your attorney(s) to make decisions, with legal authority, on your behalf. Unlike LPAPFAs, however, LPAH&Ws can only ever be used by your attorney(s) to make a decision on your behalf if you lack the mental capacity to make that decision yourself – if you have the mental capacity to make a decision, your attorney(s) cannot make it for you.
What kind of decisions do LPAH&Ws cover?
Broadly speaking, LPAH&Ws cover ‘personal’ decisions. Your attorney will make decisions about things like:
- Daily routine; for example washing dressing and eating
- Medical care
- Where you, the donor (the person giving the power), lives
LPAH&Ws can also cover life sustaining treatment decisions.
Won’t my family be able to make these decisions for me without a LPAH&W?
Whilst your family are likely to be consulted on such issues, they won’t have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf as your attorney(s) would. For example, you might not even be able to access your spouse’s / partner’s medical records without a LPAH&W.
Only your next of kin would be consulted about resuscitation and life sustaining treatment decisions and this may not be the person you want/expect it to be. Further, your next of kin and other family and friends may not be aware of your wishes or there may be disagreement between them.
What are the advantages of LPAH&Ws?
LPAH&Ws give you the peace of mind that you have given a person (or people) you trust, and who are aware of your wishes, the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf should you lack the mental capacity to make such decisions yourself. LPAH&Ws will also give your next of kin, family and friends peace of mind that they know what your wishes are and that these can be expressed on your behalf.
What if I don’t have a LPAH&W?
If you don’t have a LPAH&W in place and a decision needs to be made on your behalf because you lack the mental capacity to make it, Social Services and/or the Court of Protection may need to become involved. An application to the Court of Protection can be lengthy, costly and stressful at what would be an already difficult time and could result in a decision which is not in line with your wishes.
If you would like to meet with one of our Consultants to discuss any of the issues raised in this article or any other Estate Planning topic please telephone 01732 868190 or get in touch with us via our enquiry form.