Health and Welfare LPAs
By Jane Stanfield, Associate Practitioner
Please note that this article relates to LPAs in England and Wales.
For Powers of Attorney in Scotland see What is a Power of Attorney and for Northern Ireland see Managing your affairs and enduring power of attorney | nidirect
What is important to you? What deeply held views do you hold? Who knows what you would want or choose if you are no longer able to tell anyone?
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows you – the Donor – to give power to someone else to make decisions for you. Decisions such as “should I consent to a particular medical treatment?” or “what care should I have and where should I live?”
The Health and Welfare LPA has an important section where you choose whether or not your Attorneys can give or refuse consent to life-sustaining treatment on your behalf.
In order to make the LPA – which is a legally binding document – you must have mental capacity to understand what you are doing and to be able to decide who you trust to be your Attorneys. All Attorneys must act in the Donor’s best interests.
As a safeguard against exploitation of vulnerable people, every LPA must have a “certificate provider” to certify that they have discussed the LPA with the Donor and that they understand what they are doing and that no pressure has been put on them. Certificate providers can be someone who has known the Donor for at least two years, or a relevant professional. The Attorneys cannot be the certificate provider.
The Attorneys have to sign the document to show they agree to act for you and understand their responsibilities. If possible, it is wise to appoint more than one Attorney in case an Attorney becomes unable to act for some reason. You can state whether all the Attorneys have to agree unanimously on all decisions or whether individual Attorneys can make decisions for you on their own.
Your Attorneys can only use the Health and Welfare LPA once you have lost the mental capacity to make those decisions yourself. LPAs must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in order to be used.
You may choose to use a solicitor or will writer to draw up your LPA, but it is possible to complete the forms yourself so that the only costs would be the registration fee of £82. This fee is reduced or waived in cases of low income.
Lasting Powers of Attorney forms can be completed online and then printed and signed.