Decisions you need to make when you sign a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

Jun 10, 2023

A health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that gives someone the authority to manage your personal affairs, should you ever become unable to do this yourself. We take a look at the decisions you will need to make when you have an LPA drawn up.

There are two types of LPA:

  • Health and welfare LPA; and
  • Property and financial affairs LPA

A health and welfare LPA gives your trusted attorney the right to make decisions for you if you lose mental capacity. This can include:

  • Deciding whether you move to a care home
  • Arranging care at home for you
  • Deciding what you will do and who you will see
  • Deciding what medical care you will have
  • Deciding whether medical treatment will be refused on your behalf

The document can only be used if you lose the ability to make your own decisions. When your health and welfare LPA is drafted, you will have a number of options.

How many attorneys to appoint

You can appoint more than one attorney if you wish. There is no limit on the number you can appoint, but you should bear in mind that the more attorneys you have, the more complicated it may make decision-making and the more scope there is for disagreement. It is usual to appoint one or two individuals.

You can also name replacement attorneys who will act if your original choice is unable or unwilling to do so.

If you have more than one attorney, can they act separately or must they act jointly?

If you appoint two or more attorneys, you will need to decide whether you are happy for either of them to make a decision for you without consulting the other. This is acting separately. Alternatively, you can require both of them to agree on a decision, acting jointly. This can make things more time-consuming for your attorneys. A third option is to allow them to make certain decisions unilaterally but require them to make major decisions, such as where you will live, together.

Who to appoint and whether to name a replacement

Being an attorney can be a fairly onerous role, taking up time and requiring a certain amount of paperwork. You should choose someone you believe will have the time and ability to act for you, should it ever be necessary. It should also be someone you trust implicitly and whom you feel would act in your best interests.

You may wish to choose someone younger than you, so that there is a stronger chance they will be able to take on the job, which could be many years from now.

You should talk to your proposed attorney(s) so that they understand what will be required of them and also so that you can explain to them what choices you would like them to make on your behalf.

Who you would like to be notified

You can name people on the LPA whom you would like to be notified when your LPA is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Registration needs to happen before the LPA can be used by your attorney. The people to be notified will have the chance to raise an objection to the LPA if they wish. You should discuss the situation with them in advance so that they know your thoughts.

Who will be the certificate provider

A certificate provider will need to sign the LPA. This is someone who can certify that you have the mental capacity to sign the document and that you understand the implications of signing.

It can be someone who has known you for two years or more or a professional with the relevant skills to sign the certificate, such as a doctor, social worker or solicitor. They will ask you a number of questions to establish that you are aware of the purpose of the LPA and that you understand the authority that you are giving to your attorney.

What medical treatment you want to receive or refuse

You can include details of the medical treatment you want to receive and whether you are giving your attorney the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment on your behalf. If you do not give them this power, your medical practitioners will make the decision, should it become necessary.

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