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The mainstream media generally seems to place greater emphasis on the financial implications of not having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place but should the “Health and Welfare” LPA really be the poor relation?
With two different LPAs available, which is more important to you, “Property and Finance” or “Health and Welfare”? Many people now understand the advantages of making an LPA that helps to keep their Property and Financial Affairs in order but fewer people seem to fully appreciate the benefits of making a Health and Welfare LPA. Protecting yourself financially is important; but putting the right systems in place for your well-being and to look after your interests when you’re vulnerable should be just as much of a consideration.
What if I lose mental capacity and don’t have a Health & Welfare LPA?
Your family members and loved ones are likely to not have a say in how you live or are cared for, leading to:
- Social Services may have to take the lead in making decisions about where you should live and what care you will receive.
- Only your legal next of kin would be consulted about decisions regarding resuscitation and life sustaining treatment. And even though they are talked to, it still does not mean they will have the final say.
- Decisions may have to be made by the Court of Protection, rather than by the people you would choose. This will be an expensive and time-consuming process.
Looking at it like that, it is clear that it’s smart to prepare, just in case. While we recognise that social services across the country work to support vulnerable people and will do whatever they can to get the best outcome for you, they may not always know clearly what that best outcome is as they’ve not shared a lifetime with you. Your family, partner or beloved friend does. They know your little eccentricities and can use this caring knowledge to support you during this time.
How can a Health and Welfare LPA be used if I have one?
Unlike a Property and Finance LPA, a Health and Welfare LPA can only ever be used if you have lost the mental capacity to make such decisions yourself. With this LPA in place, your chosen attorneys have the power to make decisions about things like:
- your daily routine, for example washing, dressing, eating
- medical care
- moving into a care home
- life-sustaining treatment
With a growing number of Britons suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, careful planning is needed to make sure that you would have the right people making decisions on your behalf if the need arises. In the absence of a Health and Welfare LPA, you run the risk of having strangers making decisions about your personal welfare, even if your friends or relations know far better what your choices would have been. Social services teams are here to support you, but they aren’t here to replace your loved ones so don’t feel like the people you care about and who care about you can’t have a say in looking after you, should you lose mental capacity.
To put it simply, only by having both LPAs in place can you make sure that your wishes in as many aspects of life as possible are always going to be taken into consideration. It’s important to understand the value of a Health and Welfare LPA and should form more of a discussion in our society. Rather than just the ever-popular plot device in films, the financial power of attorney.
For any additional information contact The Honey Group – Rachel Colbert – by calling us on 0800 847 7086 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation at a time convenient to you and your loved ones, in the comfort of your own home. Their experienced team can guide you through the process.
Contributed by Rachel Colbert, The Honey Group.
Find out more..
Learn more about mental capacity with the resources available on our site, including the ‘Mental Capacity Law Guidance Note: A brief guide to carrying out capacity assessments’ from 39 Essex Chambers.