Lasting Powers of Attorney for Health and Welfare – How important are they?

06 Nov 2020

As you may have seen from the recent heart-breaking story about a grandmother being forced to remain in a care home with no meaningful contact with her family, a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare can be vital.  Without this document your family can be practically powerless to step in and fight for what they think is in your best interests.
If you lose the mental capacity to manage your finances or make decisions about your health in your lifetime, your family does not have an automatic right to make those decisions for you. This applies equally to spouses and civil partners as it does to children and more distant relatives. 
In order to choose the person or people who should make decisions for you if you lose capacity (temporarily or otherwise) you need to create a Lasting Power of Attorney while you have the capacity to do so.
A person who lacks capacity to make decisions about their own health and who has not put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare is reliant on organisations and individuals they have not chosen to make decisions for them.
There are many facets involved in the recent media case which includes, to an extent, deprivation of liberty safeguards (DOLS) and the fact that a carefully considered plan will have been put in place to keep the grandmother as safe and well looked after as possible.
However, the system is under great strain and was not created with recent living conditions caused by Covid-19 in mind.  This is why families who were previously very happy with the care being received by a relative might now be having concerns. With more people working from home, caring for a relative themselves is now a possibility whereas previously it was not. 

Family members without legal authority to act on behalf of an individual who has lost capacity will find it harder to make changes to a care plan already in place.
In order to give your family members the best tools to do what is right for you in the event that you cannot make decisions for yourself you should make both types of Lasting Power of Attorney – one for health and welfare decisions and the other for decisions about property and finance.
If you have any questions about making a Lasting Power of Attorney or the different types please get in touch with Jennifer Charlton who would be happy to help.

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