Health and Care Decisions Lasting Power of Attorney
- AuthorCaroline Farmer
A Health and Care Decisions Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint your choice of person or people to make health and care decisions on your behalf if you become permanently or temporarily mentally unable to make these decisions for yourself.
Examples of health and care decisions are: medical treatment, care arrangements, where you live and what you do in a day.
The LPA has to be created when you know what you are doing (you have mental capacity) but it cannot be used until you are incapable of making these decisions for yourself and your LPA has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Many clients make and register their LPAs well ahead of time so that they are ready to be used should a medical emergency arise and decisions need to be taken on your behalf.
Attorneys are under a legal duty to act in your best interests. You should choose people who are trustworthy, competent and reliable to make these important decisions on your behalf. You may also wish to brief your attorneys on your views regarding your future medical decisions, care arrangements and end of life care. Alternatively you can set out your views in the LPA itself or in a letter of wishes.
The Health and Care Decisions LPA gives you the ability to give your attorney(s) the ability to consent to, or refuse, life-sustaining treatment. Attorneys can take professional advice and then make a decision as if they were you. Refusing life-sustaining treatment could hasten the end of your life. We find that many clients take comfort from making this arrangement so that their loved ones can make this difficult decision if they feel that it is in your best interests. Alternatively you can require the medical professionals to make this decision, bearing in mind the views of your attorneys.
We believe that all clients should make LPAs in case they are ever unable to make decisions for themselves about their health, care, finances or property, provided that they have people who they trust to take these decisions on their behalf and in their best interest.
There have been cases where families have had to bring proceedings in the Court of Protection to ask for permission for treatment to be withdrawn because of disagreement between the medical professionals and family about whether continued treatment is in the patient’s best interests. If there is an LPA, an expensive and emotive Court application may be avoided because the attorneys will have the authority to make the decision to withdraw life-sustaining treatment when they think the time is right.