We recently received an enquiry from a lady wanting to create her Property & Finance Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Our immediate question was, had she already done her Health & Welfare one?
Her response was along the lines of: “I was told I don’t need to do a health one as my family will decide everything.” We explained that unfortunately, this is not necessarily how things will happen.
A Health & Welfare LPA allows a person’s ‘attorneys’ (usually trusted relatives or friends) to make decisions on their health and care, or at least take steps to help the person make their own decisions, if they are not able to, perhaps due to loss of mental capacity or being in a coma following an accident. In such cases, one would hope that care providers or doctors would take the family’s wishes into account, but they are not obligated to.
One sad example we have heard of recently is an elderly lady who does not have a Health & Welfare LPA set up. The care she is receiving from her local council is particularly poor, but because of the lack of an LPA, her only child (a daughter) is unable to take action to improve it. In exasperation, this lady’s daughter has even asked the council to discontinue care, and said that she and her own daughter will care for her mother, but the council will not even allow this.
The daughter is now faced with either continuing to see her mother receive substandard care, or the expensive, stressful and time-consuming prospect of asking for the Court of Protection to grant her the right to decide on her mother’s care. Unfortunately, the Court rarely grants such rights on Health & Welfare.
The Office of the Public Guardian are currently taking 4-5 months to register Lasting Powers of Attorney, until which time they cannot be used. So if you or someone you know is concerned about their mental capacity, now is the time to act.