THE POWER OF LOVE
Kelly Edmundson a solicitor with Yorkshire law firm LCF Law discusses the benefits of having the appropriate Lasting Powers of Attorney in place.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that lets you (the donor) appoint trusted friends or family members (your attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, one relates to financial decisions and the other to health and care.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are around 850,000 people in the UK with dementia. One in 14 people over 65 will develop dementia, and the condition affects 1 in 6 people over 80.
You must have mental capacity to make a Lasting Power of Attorney at the time the document is signed.
If you make a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, your attorneys can only make decisions regarding your health and care when you do not have mental capacity to make these decisions yourself. Examples of decisions you might need your attorneys to make for you include:
Decisions regarding where you should live;
Giving or refusing consent to health care;
Day-to-day matters such as your diet, dress or daily routine.
You can also decide whether you would like your attorneys to be able to make decisions about accepting or refusing medical treatment to keep you alive.
What happens if I lose capacity and I don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare?
A lot of people assume that their next of kin would automatically be able to make decisions about their health and care, if you cannot do so yourself. This is not the case.
If you lose the capacity to make your own decisions and you do not have a valid lasting power of attorney, decisions regarding your health and welfare could be made by Social Services, the local authority and/or health professionals; they may consult with your family but they do not have to. Alternatively, an application can be made to the Court of Protection to ask them to make a decision on your behalf or to appoint a deputy for your health and care decisions but this is an expensive and time consuming process.
Most people hope that they will not need to rely on attorneys to make decisions for them in the future. However it is sensible to make arrangements in the event that you should lose mental capacity.