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15 May 2020

End of life wishes

Whilst many of us know the importance of having a Will in place, many do not think about making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), which is equally as important as a Will, particularly if you have specific wishes about end of life treatment.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), is a legal document allowing you to appoint individuals (your Attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf should you become mentally incapable of dealing with your own affairs. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), and you can choose whether to make one or both types: Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare.

End of life wishes – The importance of making a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows your attorney(s) to make decisions about your personal welfare, which may include giving or refusing consent to medical treatment but also extents to decisions relating to your care and day to day issues such as diet and daily routine. If you lose capacity to manage your own affairs, your partner, family members or close friends are not automatically entitled to make these decisions on your behalf, although care homes, doctors and other medical authorities may take your views into account when making a best interest decision under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. If you have particular wishes about the treatment you might receive in circumstances where you lack capacity, together with any end of life treatment decisions, making an Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), ensures that your end of life wishes can be protected and that your Attorneys have a “trump” card to make these decisions on your behalf.

Another way to protect your end of life wishes is to create an Advanced Decision. An Advance Decision (often known as a “Living Will” or “advance refusal”) is a written statement allowing you to indicate that in the event of terminal illness, mental incapacity or permanent unconsciousness, you do not wish to be kept alive by artificial means, or to have your life prolonged by certain medical treatment. If you have made an Advance Decision to refuse treatment and then later make a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney which gives your attorneys power to give or refuse consent to the same kinds of treatment, your Advance Decision will become invalid.

The case of Paul Briggs highlights the importance of the need to formally record your wishes. Paul Briggs suffered serious injuries and was left in a minimally conscious state following a road traffic accident. Without any formal documentation to record what he would want to happen in such a situation, his family did not have the legal authority to make decisions about his treatment. Therefore the family had to apply to the Court of Protection for permission to end life support treatment and for Paul to be able to pass away peacefully. Here, an LPA could have given the family the legal authority to uphold Paul’s wishes without the need to apply to the court.

By making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) you are safe in the knowledge that if you become unable to make decisions for yourself, your attorney will be able to step in and make decisions in your best interests.

We are here to help, to continue reading our articles in our Dying Matters Awareness Week series please use the links below:

Dying Matters Awareness Week

Can I make a Lasting Powers of Attorney if I have Dementia?

Steeles Law is able to support our clients with making Wills, preparing Lasting Powers of Attorneys and ensuring your End of life wishes are documented, please contact our Private Client team by emailing info@steeleslaw.co.uk or calling 01379 652141.

*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

 

 

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