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Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney: Health and Welfare

Your Life
Friday 16 August 2019
When you’re considering the future, it’s important to fully understand your options. For example, even though you may have heard of Lasting Powers of Attorney, or LPA, do you really know what it means? 
If you don’t, or you’re not sure, you’re in the right place. With this, the first of our series of posts on understanding LPAs, we’ll talk you through the basics of the Health and Welfare LPA. 

What is a health and welfare LPA?

An LPA is a legal document which gives the person, or people, of your choice the power to deal with your affairs and act on your behalf if you’re no longer able to. When the LPA comes into effect, those people are known as your attorney(s).
So, a Health and Welfare attorney is just that; someone you have chosen to take care of your health and wellbeing when you’ve lost mental capacity.  
Their responsibilities include:
  • Your medical treatment
  • Where you’re cared for (help to choose a care or residential home)
  • The type of care you receive
  • Day-to-day things, such as your diet, how you dress and your daily routine
You’ll also need to choose whether or not your attorney will be able to make decisions about any life-sustaining treatment. If you decide not to give this power to your attorney(s), the responsibility will be passed over to your medical professional, i.e. your doctor. You can also make your wishes in relation to Life Sustaining Treatment clear by creating a Living Will which can assist your attorney(s) or doctor(s). 
It’s also worth knowing that your attorney must always act in your best interests. 

The myths

There’s a common misconception that if you’re unable to take care of your health and welfare yourself, your partner, spouse, family or friends are automatically able to do it for you. But unless they have been appointed as your attorney legally, they can’t. 
This even includes things you may not have even considered, such as deciding when you have your hair cut, or dealing with doctors or social services on your behalf. Without a valid Health and Welfare LPA in place, they’re effectively powerless. 
That’s why it’s important to have your affairs in order. So, should the day come when you need it, you and your loved ones can rest assured that provisions are already in place. 

When to appoint your attorney

There’s no right time to appoint your attorney. However, it’s always advisable to do it sooner rather than later. You can only take out Lasting Powers of Attorney when you’re still of sound mind. 
If you do not create Lasting Powers of Attorney while you’re of sound mind, your loved ones will have to apply for deputyship to act on your behalf.  This can be a lengthy and expensive process, with no guarantee the people you would have chosen will be appointed.
As it’s difficult to predict the future, the quicker you act, the sooner you can relax.
  • Find out more about LPAs
  • If you’d like to know more about Health and Welfare LPAs, request your free guide from Key. Just pop in a few details and download your free digital guide straight away. We’ll also post a hard copy out to you at no extra cost. 
Page last updated: Friday 16 August 2019