The Importance of a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

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You’ve probably heard the term Lasting Power of Attorney or an LPA for short.

Unfortunately, most of us tend to ignore the fact that, particularly as we get older, an LPA is very important. This is because an LPA allows someone (known as a donor) to appoint someone (known as an attorney) they know and trust to make decisions on their behalf should they become unable to do so in the future.

There are two different types of LPA: a Health and Welfare LPA and a Property and Financial LPA.

Health & Welfare LPA’s

Most people are far more likely to need in place a Health and Welfare LPA which gives an attorney the authority to make key decision on a donor’s behalf. Should the donor’s mental or physical capacity deteriorate, then these decisions can include day to day decisions such as exercise, dietary requirements and care, arranging medical or dental care and even on life-sustaining treatment.

They can also, if necessary, decide where is the best place for a donor to live such as moving into a care home for example.

An LPA will allow a donor to set out any preferences they would like the attorneys to be aware of. Preferences are non-binding wishes that you would like the attorneys to keep in mind when making decisions on your behalf such as keeping pets or living close to family members.

The donor can also include in the LPA instructions which are legally binding and that the attorneys must follow. Again an example can include only moving the donor to a care home following a doctor’s medical opinion.

When Does a Health and Welfare LPA Come Into Effect?

 A Health and Welfare LPA must be registered with the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) and will only come into effect once the donor loses mental capacity.

Registering an LPA with the OPG can take up to 16 weeks or possibly longer, depending on the volume of applications they receive, so it is important you register an LPA as soon as possible.

If you should lose capacity and there is no Health and Welfare LPA in place, your family and friends will not have automatic authority to make decisions on your behalf with regards to your health and welfare. Instead, others could make decisions for you and the decisions made may not be what you would have wanted, i.e. social services decide where you live and what care you receive, or you may be resuscitated against your wishes. For this reason, many people opt to put in place a Health and Welfare LPA when they are relatively young to avoid these issues arising.

In short, having an LPA in place ensures your loved ones who are best placed to look after you if you lose capacity are legally able to do so.

It’s worth noting that if capacity is lost and there is no LPA in place, a friend or family member can apply to the Court of Protection to be a Deputy for you and make decisions on your behalf. Unfortunately, this can be a long and expensive process, in some instances taking more than six months.

Swansea Legal Solutions has a team of specialist advisors who work daily with clients to put in place Health and Welfare LPA’s to ensure their wishes for the future are carried out exactly as they want them to be.

To find out more, click here or call us today to book an appointment either in your home or at our offices in Sketty:

01792 420844