A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets someone appoint one or more people to help make decisions or to make decisions on their behalf. LPAs are generally created to give people more control over what happens should they have an accident or an illness and which results in a ‘lack of mental capacity’.
You must be 18 or over and have the ability to make your own decisions when you make an LPA.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare
This type of LPA enables an attorney (usually a nominated close family member / friend to make decisions on your behalf regarding your every day care and wellbeing. These decisions can only be made on your behalf when you actually lose capacity and not before. They might include:
- How your personal care is managed and care provisions made in your best interests. This might involve choosing a care company or residential home for you, arranging meals to be delivered and enabling you to take part in social activities.
- Medical treatment. Your attorney might be asked to decide on your behalf regarding certain treatments you will be offered.
- Palliative care. Your attorney may be asked to make a decision about life-saving treatment or end of life care.
You can also give your health and welfare attorney the power to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment for you. This is something that will be documented on the form, and your intentions must be clearly stated. Remember, this decision will overrule any advance decision that you have previously made. If you choose not to give your attorney this power to decide on life-sustaining treatment, your advance decision will still stand.
As with a property and affairs LPA (below), a health and welfare LPA can only be used after it has been registered at the OPG. However, unlike the property and affairs LPA, it cannot be used while you still have mental capacity to decide upon your own welfare or treatment.
Decisions such as those listed above directly affect you and your well being. This is why it is very important that your attorney for Health and Welfare is a person you know and trust.
Do I Need an LPA for Health and Welfare?
Everyone should think about making provisions for their future care. This ensures that your choices are recorded and your wishes are granted meaning you are looked after in a way you would like.
An LPA for Health and Welfare is particularly important for a person who has been diagnosed with dementia or any other illness that will cause cognitive impairment. Whilst it is never pleasant to envisage our demise, putting an LPA for Health and Welfare in place now is essential to make sure you’ll be looked after in accordance with your wishes. Please note: You can set up an LPA for Health and Welfare at any time in life, not just as you approach old age.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions
A Financial Decisions Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that enables anyone aged 18 or over to nominate a person or people to make decisions on their behalf as to their finances if they become incapacitated . You can allow your nominated person to make decisions at any time, not just when you lack capacity.
A Financial Decisions LPA can enable your attorneys the powers to deal with financially related matters. These people would have the same powers as you have while you have mental capacity. Their duties might include the day-to-day running of your bank account/s, paying bills, budgeting for your care and also big financial decisions like how your money might be invested and whether your property should be sold.
A financial LPA however, DOES NOT give your attorneys power to make decisions in relation to your health and personal welfare as the above LPA does. So a financial LPA will not allow others to decide upon medical treatment and where you live. For this, you would have to make a Health and Care LPA too.
There are strict formalities around the creation of any LPA. They must be corroborated by a “certificate provider” who must certify that you have the mental capacity to enter into the agreement. Once the LPA has been created it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, a process that can take weeks.
Which LPA to Make?
An LPA for Health and Welfare does not cover your financial arrangements but you must consider that your LPA for Health and Welfare might need to access your finances so that they can care more easily for you such as do your shopping or arrange transport.
It is for this reason that many people set up both types of LPA simultaneously, appointing the same person or people to look after each.