The importance of putting in place a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) has certainly come to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic. This document allows you to appoint a person or persons of your choosing to make medical and care decisions for you, should you become incapable of making them for yourself.
Many assume that a next of kin can automatically make these decisions for a loved one. However, this is simply not the case. Next of kin is a title primarily given to someone that the emergency services contact if their nearest and dearest has been involved in an accident or has taken ill. As far as the law is concerned the title means nothing once that someone becomes an adult. When a person attains 18 their parent or guardian ceases to have any legal rights over their property or well-being.
If you lose mental capacity and are no longer able to make welfare decisions for yourself, and do not have in place a Health & Welfare LPA, or do not have Personal Welfare Deputy (which involves an expensive and time-consuming court process), then decisions will be made for you by the appropriate healthcare professional on a "best interests" basis. Decisions which your family might not agree with.
Take the recent case of Mrs Ylenia Angeli who found herself handcuffed in the back of a police car when taking the decision to remove her 97 old mother from a care home:-
Though Mrs Angeli had a power of attorney over her mother's financial affairs, she had not such power of over her care, which left the care home in charge, so to speak.
So, if you would rather appoint someone of your choosing (a spouse, civil partner, child or whoever) to be able to make future medical and care decisions for you, taking the power away from the doctor, social worker or care home, you should sign and have registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, a Health & Welfare LPA.
If you would like to speak to someone about setting up a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney please call our team of specialist Lawyers on 0330 0945 500, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our Online Contact Form and we'll get back to you.