An LPA is a legal document made by an individual, while they still have mental capacity, which nominates a trusted person who could be a relative or friend to look after their property and finances or make decisions about their health and welfare when they are unable to make such decisions themselves.
The important issue here is that LPAs are not effective until they are registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. With the LPA for property and financial affairs, this can be used as soon as it has been registered. With the LPA for health and welfare, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian but the person making the LPA must also have lost their mental capacity to make those decisions themselves. You do not suddenly have to give up control once you have made LPAs. You can choose whether your LPAs can be used either before or only when you have lost mental capacity.
The LPA for health and welfare allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions regarding your medical treatment and health when you lack the capacity to do so. It also provides the flexibility to deal with unforeseen circumstances that a Living Will may not be able to provide.
In addition, you can also give someone authority to make decisions regarding your personal welfare such as who looks after you or what care home you should live in. Without this, you are reliant on the authorities making such decisions on your behalf.
When you lack the mental capacity to make decisions regarding your medical treatment, your doctor will have to make a decision on your behalf “in your best interests”. The doctor will take into account the views of whoever you have named as your Next of Kin (not necessarily a family member) but are not obliged to agree with them.
By making a Living Will, you can direct what decisions your doctor should make in certain circumstances and appoint someone to be your Next of Kin.