A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document which gives the legal authority for someone else (known as your attorney) to make decisions on your behalf.
A Health & Welfare LPA allows your Attorney to make decisions regarding your welfare - such as where you should live and the type of care you should receive. It also deals with consent to medical treatment.
This LPA differs from the Property & Financial Affairs LPA in that here an Attorney can only make Health & Welfare decisions when you lack the mental capacity to decide for yourself. For example, if you were unconscious or were unable to make a decision because of the onset of a condition such as Dementia or Alzheimer's then your Attorney can make that decision for you. However while ever you have mental capacity your Attorney has no authority to act for you.
Whilst we all hope that we will always be able to manage our own affairs, sometimes this is not possible. A Lasting Power of Attorney means you can decide who steps in and makes those decisions in the event that you cannot.
Without a Power of Attorney in place, your loved ones would have to apply to the Court for a Deputyship Order to ask permission to make these decisions on your behalf. This takes a substantial amount of time, and it may be that the person who applies to the Court is not the person you would choose to deal with your affairs. It is therefore essential that you act while you can, to ensure your wishes are implemented.
Your Attorney can be anyone over the age of 18 who is mentally competent. This may be your spouse or child, another family member, a friend or a professional.
While your Attorney has a legal obligation to act in your best interests at all times, your choice of Attorney is still very important. Your Attorney needs to be someone you trust to make decisions for you and who is happy to act in this role.
Before an LPA can be used by your Attorney, it needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. This process can take several months. Many people choose to register their LPA straight away so that it is ready for use in the future when needed.
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