According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are currently 800,000 people who suffer from dementia in the UK. By 2025 it is estimated that this figure will reach 1 million.
To ensure that your health and care needs are met, in the event of a loss of mental capacity, it is possible to prepare a lasting power of attorney for health and welfare to appoint attorneys to make such decisions on your behalf.
When I discuss health and welfare lasting powers of attorney with clients they often wrongly think that they are able to put in place a health and welfare attorney at a time when they have lost mental capacity. However, in order to prepare lasting power of attorney health and welfare, a certificate provider must sign to say that you have capacity to make a lasting power of attorney at the time the document is signed.
Lasting Power of Attorney Health and Welfare - what sorts of decisions would my attorneys be able to make on my behalf?
The most common examples are the types of decisions which your attorneys would be able make whilst acting as a health and welfare attorney are as follows:
- Decisions about your daily routine (e.g. washing, dressing, eating);
- Decisions involving medical care;
- Decisions in connection with residential living arrangements; and
- Permission to consent to or refuse sustaining treatment (if you have chosen to grant your attorneys this authority within the document).
What happens if I don’t have a health and welfare lasting power of attorney?
Clients often ask me who would make these decisions for them if they don’t have a health and welfare lasting power of attorney and have lost mental capacity. They assume that authority to make health and care decisions automatically vests in a relative or next of kin, without the need to have recourse to a legal document. This is untrue.
In such circumstances, decisions regarding your health and welfare would be made by a variety of people including representatives from Social Services, local authorities and/or health professionals. They may or may not consult with family members and are under no obligation to do so.
Just as with the property and affairs power of attorney, most of my clients hope that they will not need to rely on attorneys to make decisions for them, however it is reassuring for them to know that they have made arrangements in the event that they should lose mental capacity.
If you would like further information on the preparation of lasting powers of attorney and particularly lasting powers of attorney for health and welfare please contact me via telephone on 0113 336 3400 or alternatively via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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