Do I really need a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare?

Plan ahead for your medical decisions with a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for health and welfare is separate and independent to an LPA for property and finances. You can choose whether to make one or both types of LPA depending on your requirements.
A health and welfare LPA has a tendency to be considered as the less important of the two types but many people overlook its benefits and the security that it can provide.

When can a health and welfare LPA be used?

A health and welfare LPA can only be used should you lose capacity; until such a time, the view is taken, that you should make those important and personal decisions for yourself. 
It is often assumed that when a person does lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves, their loved ones will be consulted (and listened to) when it comes to decisions being made about medical treatment and care. However, this is not always strictly the case.

Did you know? Healthcare professionals are not obliged to consider the wishes of your next of kin.

It is usual for healthcare professionals and Social Services to be responsible for making decisions on behalf of a person who lacks capacity and in doing so to consult with a person’s “next of kin”. It is important to be aware however that they are not obliged to act upon any such consultation and the next of kin does not have any binding influence in any decision making. The healthcare professionals and Social Services must act in the best interests of the person concerned but you should be mindful that that may not necessarily be in line with your wishes. For example, preservation of life is the priority of those who are medically trained but there may be circumstances in which you would not wish to be kept alive. 

A health and welfare LPA ensures you have control through appointing an attorney on your behalf

In order to address the fact your that your next of kin may have no control over your care, you would need to formally appoint an attorney (or attorneys) in a health and welfare LPA who would then be able to make your wishes known at a time when you are unable to do so. A health and welfare LPA is an important way of ensuring that your attorney has significant influence in the decision making process and would mean that they have the authority to be heard.

Furthermore, a health and welfare LPA provides you with the opportunity to specifically choose who should be involved in making decisions on your behalf. You may not consider your “next of kin” to be the person best placed to speak on your behalf, so a health and welfare LPA would enable you to take control and put the necessary provisions in place now. This can offer great peace of mind for both yourself and your loved ones.

As the health and welfare LPA has become more common, it is carrying increasing weight for attorneys. It is arguably the primary way to ensure that your loved ones have the authority to voice your wishes and, if necessary, challenge decisions being made. Without it, their input could be dismissed or go unheard which can lead to upset and frustration for them, being the people most likely to speak for you as you would have spoken for yourself.  

We would recommend that making an LPA for health and welfare is given just as much consideration as one for property and finances. It could prove to be invaluable!

Our experienced health and welfare LPA team can give you the guidance and advice you need. Please email the team on wills@winstonsolicitors.co.uk or call 0113 320 5000 for a no obligation chat about your circumstances.

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