Solicitors for the Elderly (“SFE”), along with a number of charities, have expressed concern over the number of people that have not made a Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) for Health and Welfare.

The number of people being diagnosed with dementia in the UK has risen by 50% from 2005 to 2017, and this is set to rise; however, this is not matched by an increase in people making these LPAs.

What is a health and welfare LPA?

Many people do not realise that there are two different types of LPA: one for Property and Financial Affairs, and one for Health and Welfare. The LPA for Health and Welfare allows the person making the document (the “Donor”) to appoint attorneys to make decisions in respect of their general health and welfare, if they are not able to make those decisions for themselves. This will include decisions regarding medication and care homes but also their diet and what they wear. The document also allows the Donor to state whether they want their attorneys to have the power to consent to or to refuse life sustaining treatment.

Historically, these documents have been less commonly used as usually doctors and care homes will follow the wishes of the next of kin. However, in the case of any dispute the family does not have formal legal standing. In addition, due to recent legislation regarding care, and the involvement of local authorities in making decisions about your care, these LPAs will become more important.

Why do you need a health and welfare power of attorney?

These kinds of LPA can prevent your family being over-ruled by the local authority in relation to your care. The document is also useful where the Donor wishes to appoint someone who is not a relative to make these kind of decisions, or in a situation where they want to designate who, of a group of similarly-related people, should make those decisions.

People often put off talking about care and end of life medical treatment, but it is important to let your family know your wishes. Going through the process of making an LPA for Health and Welfare allows you to think about what you want to happen and discuss your decisions with those that will be involved at the time.

At Myerson we regularly advise on the law in this area and talk to clients about the implications of having or not having LPAs in place. We offer a discount for people who are doing both types of LPA with us at the same time. For more information visit our Wills, Trusts and Probate section.

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