There are two types of power of attorney:
- Health and Welfare Power of Attorney – Makes decisions about your health and welfare when you are unable to.
- Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney – Makes decisions about your finances, estate, and properties when you are unable to.
When appointing your power of attorneys, most people choose two different people to ensure stress and decision making is spread. Your power of attorneys need to be able to work well together. This article will discuss the health and welfare power of attorney, what they do, and why you need to appoint one.
What Is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A lasting power of attorney or LPA is there to make important decisions if you are unable to. You can appoint one power of attorney for each type or appoint multiple powers of attorney for each type. If you decide to appoint multiple attorneys, you can specify whether they are to make each decision together or if they are able to make some decisions together and some individually as the circumstances require.
When Is a Health and Welfare LPA Helpful?
An LPA can make decisions about your health and welfare if you are unable to due to
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Unconsciousness or coma
- Poor mental health or unfit mental state
If you work a dangerous job, have a history of mental illness or dementia, or are ageing, then you should consider designating a power of attorney. They will only be able to make decisions if you are ruled to be medically unable to make your own health and welfare decisions.
What Decisions Can a Health And Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney Make?
Your attorney can make decisions about:
- Your medical care
- The type of care you receive
- Where you receive care
- Your daily routine and care
- Social activities
- Dietary restrictions or guidelines
- Who you come into contact with
When you set your LPA, you can provide them with the guidance of your wishes and how you would like to be cared for. You may even set up a trust at the same time to pay for your care.
You can choose whether your health and welfare LPA make the end of life decisions for you. Alternatively, they may be made by your medical team or laid out in an Advance Decision Living Will.
An LPA cannot make decisions that:
- Contradict the Advance Decision Living Will
- Contradict medical decisions made if the person is sectioned
- Go against any guardianship orders
They also cannot exercise their power of attorney unless you are mentally incapacitated.
Who Should I Choose As My Power of Attorney?
First of all, choose somebody that you trust. This person will be responsible for your health and welfare when you are at your most vulnerable.
You should always have separate LPAs for your health and welfare and property and finances to avoid giving one person complete control over your life. You should also prepare a document where you share your wishes and overall feelings about things with your health and welfare LPA. This will help them understand what is important to you and how to make decisions in line with your interests.
Do I Need to Name My Spouse or Civil Partner As My Power of Attorney?
Yes. Your spouse or civil partner will not automatically be named as your LPA. They will not have the power to make decisions about your health care or lifestyle.
What If I Need to Change My Power of Attorney?
You can change your LPA at any time. If you no longer trust someone to make health and welfare decisions in your best interests, you need to change your LPA.
- An LPA will automatically be invalidated if:
- Either the attorney or donor dies
- Either party become bankrupt
- The civil partnership or marriage between the attorney and donor is annulled or otherwise ends.
- The attorney does not have the mental capacity to make health and welfare decisions.
- If the LPA is not making decisions in your best interests, the Court of Protections may cancel a power of attorney.
If you make a decision to cancel an LPA for any other reason, then you must contact the Office of the Public Guardian. They may need to perform a mental welfare check before they cancel a power of attorney. Generally, they will not make changes just because you change your mind, so you need to be sure of your LPAs before you appoint them.
What If I Believe My LPA Is Not Making Decisions In My Best Interests?
If you believe any of your power of attorneys are making bad decisions or harming you in any way, then you need to seek immediate help.
You should do the following things:
- Speak to someone you trust – Discuss the problems with an impartial party that you trust. Ideally, this should be a professional like your solicitor who can advocate for you and help you seek assistance if necessary.
- Contact the police if there is an immediate danger – If there is an immediate danger to your health or welfare, contact emergency services on 999.
- Call a confidential hotline – There are a number of confidential hotlines that can help with elder abuse issues. You should call them if you suspect either of your powers of attorney of not acting in your best interests. They will be able to advise you and connect you with programs or support to help you take further steps. * Contact the Office of the Public Guardian – They are responsible for all the donors and attorneys and will investigate your claims of abuse or mistreatment. They can help you to change your power of attorney so that you receive better care and support. Ensure trusted family members have these contact details so they can file claims on your behalf if they suspect mistreatment. Depending on your mental state, you may not be able to advocate for yourself.
Your LPA is responsible for you when you are at your most vulnerable, so it is important that you trust their health and welfare plans and speak up if you suspect mistreatment.
How Can I Prevent Mistreatment From a Power of Attorney?
There are a number of safeguards you can put in place to protect yourself, even if you trust your power of attorneys complicitly.
- Appoint two powers of attorney to care for your health and welfare – This ensures the stress is evenly spread amongst two people and that two people have to agree on a course of action. This may cause issues if your LPAs cannot agree, but if you are concerned, it will protect you.
- Write an Advance Directive Living Will – This will clearly lay out what types of treatment you wish to refuse, such as end of life measures and even certain surgeries. A power of attorney cannot overrule your Advance Directive Living Will unless you explicitly give them the power to do so. Many people write an Advance Directive Living Will to retain an element of control over their medical decisions.
- Provide your LPA with guidelines and wishes for your care and treatment – It is best to share your wishes with your LPA in written form and tell your family members as you age. You can tell them about your Advance Directive Living Will and specify things you would like if certain situations arise. For example, you may tell your family that you would prefer to live in an assisted living facility if you are unable to care for yourself rather than having your family care for you. It is prudent to remind them of any allergies and your medical history as well in case they forget something.
- Consider the decision carefully – You should take time with your LPA decision as it will greatly impact your life. Do not rush into it and take the time to consider who you trust, who is nearby and able to be present to make decisions, and who knows you well enough to make decisions that would align with your wishes. You should talk to the people you want to nominate as your power of attorney and see if they are willing to undertake the role. It is a lot of responsibility, and you do not want to appoint someone who will not take it seriously.
How to Designate an LPA
The whole process goes through the Office of the Public Guardian. They have forms on their website for you to print and fill out. We recommend seeking assistance from a solicitor when filling out the forms. They can help you fill them out correctly and will ensure you are not signing them under duress. You will need someone to certify that you were of sound mind when you signed the forms.
When you file the forms with the Office of the Public Guardian, you will have to pay a fee per LPA of £82. Certain benefits will make you eligible for a discount.