It’s something that happens to us all. We don’t have to like it, but thankfully, most of us, sooner or later, accept it. Getting older. As we age, we also have to consider the inevitable, and start putting our house in order. If you fall into this category, or you have a loved one whose future well-being you are concerned about, the following may help in alleviating some of those fears.
Help is out there:
[break]Did you know, you can give someone Lasting Power of Attorney to look after your welfare, and your affairs, should you become incapable of doing so?
No, don’t stop reading, this is not about taking away your rights to look after yourself and stay in control. It’s about you – making decisions about who you would prefer to look after your interests, should the time ever come when you are unable to do so.
Overview of Lasting Power of Attorney:
[break]A lasting Power of Attorney means you give someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf, should you become mentally incapable of making decisions on your own. Normally the family solicitor, or a solicitor of your choosing. But they could also be a trusted family member, or a close friend (acting as an attorney).
The first is a property and financial LPA, where your designated attorney makes all decisions regarding any property you own, or your personal finances.
The second is a health and welfare LPA, where your designated attorney looks after your personal health and welfare. Unlike a financial LPA, a health and welfare LPA can only be activated if you lose the ability to make your own decisions.
Why would you need a Health and Welfare LPA:
[break]• If you’ve been diagnosed with a medical degenerative illness.
• If you feel there would be family disagreements about your best interests.
• But most importantly, it’s about you. Giving someone the authority to ensure your personal wishes are complied with. Your wishes may include such things as whether or not you want to be given life-prolonging drugs, when there is no chance of any full recovery.
• Whether or not you wish to be resuscitated in the event of heart failure, or to be allowed to go with dignity.
Overview of Health and Welfare LPA:
[break]Broadly speaking, anyone holding a health and welfare LPA on your behalf, is responsible for making any decisions regarding your daily well-being when you are unable to do so.
• Such things as healthcare.
• Any medical treatment required.
• Where you live, with regard to your best interests.
• Whether you require daily visits or nursing.
• Your diet.
• Your dress and daily routine.
The Lasting Power of Attorney legislation was introduced, not to take away your right to look after yourself, but to give you the right to chose who you wish to look after your wellbeing, should, or when, you become unable to do so. It was included in law under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
So, how do you get this Lasting Power of Attorney:
[break]Firstly, and most importantly, no-one can take out a Lasting Power of Attorney for you. You are the only person who can do it, and you have to be of sound mind at the time. Which is why it needs thinking about now. The steps are transparent and straight forward.
1. Choose who you wish to give your LPA to.
2. Decide how you want your attorney to act on your behalf. Making sure they know what your wishes are when different decisions have to be made. Decisions such as where you want to live if you have to be moved. And what your wishes are regarding life-prolonging treatment.
3. Once you’re sure you’ve covered all the important items, fill out your LPA forms. These are available online, or your solicitor can obtain one for you. Make sure you get the one you require. Financial or Welfare, or both.
4. Keep the form until you, or your attorney, need to use it. Until that time, you personally, still make any decision regarding your own wellbeing.
5. When required, register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). It can only be used by your attorney on your behalf when it’s been registered.
Finally, I can’t reiterate this often enough. This particular legislation has been put in place for our benefit. Look at it logically, it gives, not takes away. Whether we know we’re suffering from a degenerative illness or not, none of us can see into the future. As we get older, a fall while at home, or walking down the street, could be all it takes to rob us of our cognitive powers. Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, gives us the ability to have our wishes honoured, at a time when we may not be able to ensure they are. If nothing else – it’s has to be worth at least thinking about.