Should you put a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney in Place?

Ruth Wijay
Ruth Wijay
Head of Wills, Probate & Trusts

This week, the broadcaster Deborah James announced that she is now receiving hospice care after initially being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 at just 35-years-old.

In her interview with BBC Breakfast this week, Deborah spoke about the challenging conversations she’s had to have with her family in the lead up to her decision to receive end of life care at her parents’ home.

Many people understandably delay these discussions and Deborah herself has spoken about the “rebellious hope” she’d held onto in the five years since her diagnosis. But it is important that people are aware of their loved ones’ wishes so that the right arrangements can be put in place when the time comes.

Deborah James has set up the Bowelbabe Fund which has already raised over £4 million for Cancer Research UK - you can donate here.

If you find yourself in a situation where you no longer have capacity to make decisions around your own healthcare, putting in place a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) will allow someone you trust to make these decisions on your behalf.

You can Also Include Your Preferences in a Health and Welfare LPA

Before registering your Health and Welfare LPA, you can add your wishes for how you’d like your personal welfare to be managed. This is especially important for people facing end of life care who may lose the ability to communicate their preferences further down the line.

Wishes set out in your LPA could include:

  • where you would like your final days to be spent;
  • who you’d like to spend your time with;
  • if you have pets, you might request that they stay with you for as long as possible;
  • how often you’d like to exercise or get outdoors;
  • your preference on organ donation.

Whilst these preferences aren’t legally binding, having them set out can help your loved ones to understand the reasoning behind your decisions and could provide a resolution to any disagreements that arise between family members.

Who Should be Appointed as a Health and Welfare Attorney?

Becoming an Attorney is a significant responsibility that shouldn’t be understated. Whoever you choose to be your Health and Welfare Attorney will be responsible for making important decisions about your healthcare, including:

  • where you should live;
  • medical treatment you should receive;
  • arranging hospice care;
  • if you should receive life-sustaining treatment – this only applies if it was stated in the LPA that you have the power to make this decision;
  • your daily routine.

Any decision that is made on your behalf by an Attorney must take into account your best interests, so it is important that you appoint a person or people you trust. But this isn’t the only factor to consider, you should also think about:

  • Their age – legally, you will not be able to appoint anyone younger than 18-years-old as an Attorney. But it is worth bearing in mind that whoever you appoint may need to make decisions on your behalf far into the future. Many people select a younger Attorney for this reason.
  • Their ability to manage their own wellbeing - having an idea of how your chosen Attorney handles their own wellbeing and that of the people around them can offer you peace of mind that they will be in a strong position to carry out this responsibility for you.
  • The potential for disputes – most people choose between one and four Attorneys. If you decide to appoint multiple Attorneys, you should consider their ability to work together and come to agreements that are in your best interest.

For further advice tailored to your situation, get in touch with our expert Wills and Trusts team.

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