Most people are aware of Lasting Powers of Attorneys (“LPA”) that cover an individual’s property and financial affairs but there is also a lesser known LPA that covers Health & Welfare.
It is immediately obvious to most people why a Property & Financial Affairs LPA is a good idea, so that someone can deal with finances should an individual become mentally incapacitated. It is perhaps less obvious why a Health and Welfare LPA is just as important. We are often told that it is not needed as the family will look after me and that they are ‘next of kin’.
It is not the case that family members automatically have the right the make decisions in respect of a loved one’s health and welfare should an individual lose mental capacity because they are ‘next of kin’. Instead should you wish for a family member to be able to make decisions about care or medical treatment a Health and Welfare LPA is essential.
The importance of the Health & Welfare LPA may be seen in the recent situation that has been reported in Market Weighton where a 73 year old daughter was arrested for removing her 97 year old mother from a care home so that she could care for her at home herself. The mother was returned to her care home and the daughter was de-arrested. The family reported that they had the Property & Finance LPA but not a Health & Welfare one. While there may be particular factors in this case which resulted in this incident, it might be that if the family had a Health & Welfare LPA in place the nature of the discussions with the care home might have been different leading to an alternative and more satisfactory outcome.
When reviewing your affairs for later life it is important to not only put in place the relevant legal documents to cover your finances but to also consider your health & welfare and who you would want to be able to make these decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Should you wish to discuss LPA’s or planning for later life in general please contact a member of the Private Client team who are ready to assist.