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Health & Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney – 10 reasons why it is so important to make one

The Covid-19 pandemic has focused everybody’s minds on health and welfare issues. Getting your legal affairs in order has now become of paramount concern. An area of increasing importance is the need to make a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

What is a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney? 

This is a particular power of attorney which enables another person or persons to make decisions concerning your health and welfare in the event that you lose mental capacity.

There are at least 10 very good reasons why you should not delay in making one.

  1. A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney enables you to chose who should make the most important decisions concerning your health and welfare, should you lose capacity. It puts you in control as it is the people you chose and trust implicitly who act on your behalf and make those importance decisions for you. 
  2. Under a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, your attorneys can make decisions relating to where you live and what you eat. Furthermore, under a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, you can delegate decisions about life sustaining treatment. 
  3. A Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is must wider in impact than a Living Will, also known as an Advanced Decision. Living Wills only deal with the refusal of life sustaining treatment whereas a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney can cover other important health and welfare issues.
  4. Without a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, the decisions about your health and welfare going forward are made by professionals who have to follow the principles of the Mental Capacity Act and act in your best interests. However, it is their perception of what is in your best interests which matters. The professionals who will be making these decisions include social workers and doctors. It is correct to say that these professionals have to listen to the views of the next of kin. However, they do not have to follow those views and in fact, can proceed in a manner contrary to what the next of kin thinks is best for you. I have even had a medical person make a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney at our office due to the fact that he wanted to ensure that if he lost capacity, then the decisions made about his health and welfare would be taken by a close family member. He clearly felt that having a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney was of considerable importance. 
  5. Without a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, your nearest and dearest may feel that their views are disregarded. I have had a client whose husband unfortunately had Dementia and went into a care home. My client felt that the social workers were making decisions behind her back and felt marginalised. She also felt that had her husband made a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney then she would have been in a far stronger position dealing with the social workers. 
  6. A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney gives the attorney clout. It gives them leverage and empowers them when it comes to decisions being made. 
  7. If there is no Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, the professionals may consult your next of kin. However, the person they consult might not be your ideal choice of person to be consulted. In fact, it could be a member of your family who you do not want to be involved. If you make a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney, then it is the person or persons you choose who is involved. 
  8. If there is no Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney in place, a family member can apply for a Health and Welfare Deputyship. However, in reality, the Courts these days rarely grant Health and Welfare Deputyship applications. In fact, some solicitors now will not act for a potential client in applying for a Health and Welfare Deputyship as they feel that the application is likely to have no success. If a family member is unhappy with decisions being made by a professional, then they would need to make a specific application to the Court of Protection. Even if they were successful in respect of this application, that would not be the end of the matter as if they were other decisions which are made in the future which they object to, it would be necessary to make a further application or applications to the Court of Protection. 
  9. It can take two months to register a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney from when all the parties have signed the document. It is therefore important to get on without delay. 
  10. The costs of a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is significantly less than the cost of make an application to the Court of Protection.

It should therefore be clear that making a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is a “no brainer”. We would recommend that a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is entered into at the same time as a Financial Lasting Power of Attorney. Often savings can be made by doing both at the same time. 

We at Winston Solicitors are experts in relation to the making and registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney. If you would like any help or assistance in relation to these matters, please contact our Lasting Power of Attorney Team on 0113 218 5497.

 

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