Most people are aware that they can make a Lasting Power of Attorney to appoint someone to act on their behalf in relation to their property and finances, but fewer are aware that you can do the same in relation to your health and welfare.
From October 2007 you are able to give legal authority to the person who you wish to act on your behalf to make decisions on any issue which relates to your health and welfare by putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (health and welfare) . This document enables you to appoint up to four people to have authority to make decisions about your health and welfare if you have lost mental capacity to make such decisions yourself. This includes decisions about
- Life sustaining treatment
- Medical treatment
- Where you live e.g. which care home
- Day to day matters e.g. diet
Should the above matters arise, in the absence of a Lasting Power of Attorney, your family may have no choice but to make an application to the Court of Protection for an order to appoint an individual to make these decisions.
In the event a specific decision needs to be made e.g. whether or not someone should move care homes and family members are not in agreement or there is a dispute between the family and Social Services as to the appropriate care, an application to the Court may be the only option so that the Court make that decision.
Court applications are often laborious, time consuming, and costly. In our experience the Court will not issue orders on welfare matters unless the decision in question is paramount or urgent. There is a danger that welfare matters are left unresolved and the family have no legal authority to take control.
The Lasting Power of Attorney gives you the power and control to choose someone you trust to make welfare/health decisions should the need arise in the future. You also have the ability to provide detailed guidance within the document so that your attorneys know your wishes in relation to your welfare and to medical treatment.
If you would like to discuss the benefits of Lasting Powers of Attorney further please contact a member of our Our Wills Probate & Power of Attorney Team.