Don’t Leave it Too Late to Take out an LPA

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According to the Society of Will Writers, there is a common misconception that losing mental capacity only happens to older people. The reality is that losing mental capacity can happen to anyone at any age. Something as common as a head injury that temporarily impairs your brain function can cause someone to lose capacity, it does not just relate to permanent degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Read more here.

But what are the options when it comes to health or medical decisions if you lose mental capacity? The specialist team at Swansea Legal Solutions outlines these options below.

Health or Medical Decision Options

When an individual loses mental capacity, it means they are no longer able to make informed decisions about their health and medical treatment. In such cases, there are several options available to ensure that their interests and well-being are protected as follows:

  • An Advance Care Plan is a record of your preferences about your future care and support, including decisions about medical treatment and end of life care. It is sometimes known as an Advance Statement. It is not legally binding but will help the people involved in your care understand and respect your views and wishes. If you have dementia, making an Advance Care Plan is important because it may become harder to make decisions or communicate your wishes as your condition progresses. If you are making an Advance Care Plan, try to involve close family members and friends, and your health and social care professionals.
  • Lasting Power of Attorney: A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that grants someone you trust (your attorney) the authority to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf. It becomes effective when you lose mental capacity.
  • A Guardianship Order is a court appointment that authorises someone to make decisions and take action on behalf of an adult who has lost capacity – whether due to old age, ill health or other unforeseen circumstances.
  • A deputyship is when an individual is deemed to ‘lack mental capacity’ to manage their own finances, a ‘deputy’ is appointed by the Court of Protection on their behalf.
  •  Supported decision making (SDM) is a tool that allows people with disabilities to retain their decision- making capacity by choosing supporters to help them make choices. A person using SDM selects trusted advisors, such as friends, family members, or professionals, to serve as supporters.

It is crucial to consult with a legal professional to understand the specific requirements and options available for managing medical decisions in the event of a loss of mental capacity. They can provide advice tailored to your situation and help you create the necessary legal documents to ensure your wishes are respected.

Lasting Power of Attorney

Though there are a number of options when it comes to making decisions on behalf of someone who has lost mental capacity, an n LPA is often considered one of the best options for health or medical decisions if you lose mental capacity. This is why:

  • Personal Control: By creating an LPA, you have the opportunity to choose a trusted person to act as your attorney. This ensures that someone you know and trust will make decisions in line with your preferences and values.
  • Proactive Decision-Making: An LPA allows you to plan ahead and express your wishes regarding medical treatment before you lose mental capacity. You can specify your preferences regarding specific treatments, end-of-life care, and other medical decisions. This helps to ensure that your desires are taken into account even if you are unable to communicate them later on.
  • Familiarity with Your Health: When you appoint an attorney under an LPA, they can work closely with your healthcare providers, understand your medical history, and make informed decisions based on their knowledge of your health condition. This can lead to more personalised and appropriate healthcare choices.
  • Legal Authorisation: By granting your chosen attorney legal authority through an LPA, they can make decisions on your behalf without the need for court intervention or the appointment of a guardian. This streamlines the decision-making process and can save time, money, and emotional stress for your loved ones.
  • Continuity of Care: An LPA ensures continuity of care by allowing your attorney to access your medical records, consult with healthcare professionals, and make decisions promptly. This can be particularly important in urgent or time-sensitive situations.

At Swansea Legal Solutions we have a professional team which is dedicated to setting up different types of LPA (including health and financial) for customers. If a client comes to us for a new will, we always encourage them to also consider taking out an LPA as none of us know when we will need help to make these decisions – and it doesn’t necessarily mean only when we get old.

Call us today to book a free consultation on 01792 420844 or you can read more here.

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