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#askRL – What is a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney?

02.07.18

Today, Solicitors for the Elderly launch its new campaign “The Incapacity Crisis: Making sure your wishes are heard” which raises awareness of Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney.

In support of the campaign, and as part of our own blog series on ‘Developing Vulnerability’ which looks at what happens when mental capacity is lost or declines, we answer some common questions that we are asked about this type of power of attorney.

What is a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document in which you give authority to someone to make decisions on your behalf if you were to lose mental capacity and were unable to make your own decisions.

A Health and Welfare LPA covers decisions about medical treatment, care and personal matters such as where a person lives.  It can also cover day to day decisions about what to wear, what to eat and what activities to be involved in.

How does it work?

You decide who you would like to make decisions on your behalf if you were to lose mental capacity.  The people you choose are known as your ‘attorneys’ and they can be close friends, relatives, a professional adviser or a mixture of these. The only criteria are that they must be over the age of 18 and they must have mental capacity themselves.

Your attorneys have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. They can make decisions that they believe you would take for yourself and that they consider are in your best interests.

Why should people put one in place?

Most people understand the importance of making a Will, to ensure that once you have passed away your estate can be managed properly, your loved ones are looked after and your wishes put in place. In the same way, putting in place a Health and Welfare LPA gives peace of mind to know that decisions regarding your health and general wellbeing will be taken by someone you have chosen and they can be involved in ensuring choices are made that are best for you. It’s all about planning ahead.

Does my next of kin have automatic Power of Attorney?

No. It is a widespread myth that a person’s next of kin has an automatic right to decide how their relatives are treated. If a Health and Welfare LPA is not in place and you do not have mental capacity to make a decision yourself, then your relatives or friends may not be involved in deciding what is best for you.

What about a Financial LPA?

The other type of LPA is the Property & Financial Affairs LPA which covers financial affairs, such as savings, pensions, property, other assets etc.   Your attorney can make decisions for you on any of these matters.

Unlike a Health & Welfare LPA, with a Financial LPA your attorneys can make decisions on your behalf, or assist you with matters, even if you do have capacity to make decisions for yourself.

More information?

For further information about Powers of Attorney, including downloadable factsheets for your print and share with family members, visit here: https://www.renaissancelegal.co.uk/our-services/power-of-attorney/

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