Many of us now know what a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney is and how it authorises a trusted person to deal with your money and assets if you become unable to.
But we can be mistaken in thinking that a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is not so important because next of kin know what is best for us and can make decisions and give instructions to health care providers if necessary.
The reality is: not necessarily so.
The Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney affords you peace of mind that the persons you trust are able to make decisions on your behalf relating to all your health and care needs in the eventuality that you are no longer able to make these decisions for yourself.
If you put in place a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, your appointed Attorneys will be able to make decisions on your behalf. This covers everything from washing, dressing, eating, medical care, care homes and even Life Sustaining Treatment.
The Life Sustaining Treatment point is one that most clients find very important when providing instructions for a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. This sensitive subject is covered separately in the document due to the weight of its importance.
You can choose whether you wish to grant your Attorneys authority to be able to give or refuse Life Sustaining Treatment on your behalf. If you have strong views on this that you would not want to be kept alive artificially, you would be advised to complete a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney and appoint Attorneys that are aware of your wishes.
In the absence of appointed Attorneys with authority to make these decisions on your behalf, the decision will ultimately be with the Doctors. The Doctors and other medical professionals must, of course, act ‘in your best interests’ at all times and may deem keeping you alive artificially as so, even if this is contrary to the wishes that may be known to your family.
The only way to ensure your family or loved ones have the overall say on this difficult decision, is to put in place a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney.
In certain extreme circumstances, if you find yourself unable to make your own decisions and there is no Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney in place, your family may have to apply to the Court of Protection in order to be granted the right to be able to make decisions in relation your health or proposed treatments. This is an expensive, upsetting and long drawn out process.
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place is much like taking out an insurance policy, one hopes it will not ever be needed, but if your family or loved ones do need to call on it; they really do prove invaluable.
By Lesley Hamilton Porter Dodson