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Why you should think about putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care decisions

Posted on 14th May 2020 in Later Life Planning

Why you should think about putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care decisions

The experience of caring for and seeing a parent or other loved one suffer for a prolonged period in the final stages of life, even when the grief has passed, causes many individuals to want their journey to be managed differently. Whilst not many hope for a change in the law legalising a flight to Switzerland to attend a clinic, they do not want to endure similar end days to their loved one.

The best way to ensure that you have a person lined up to vocalize the care and treatment you would like to receive is by making a document called a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Care decisions. The person you choose to be your representative is called an attorney.  If you are unable to make a decision, which might be temporary if you are very poorly or more permanent, then the attorney is authorised to make a decision which is in your best interests. The types of decision which an attorney can make are where you live, your personal care, day to day routines and medical treatment.

When making the Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Care decisions there is an option to authorize your chosen attorney to have the power to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment on your behalf. If you choose to pass this power to your attorney it is really important that you discuss with them your views and preferences in differing scenarios so that they are equipped to carry out your wishes. 

An alternative is to make a document known as an Advance Decision (also known as a Living Will). In this a person states the specific care they would like to receive or refuse should the scenario arise and they do not have mental capacity to give their instructions to the doctors. The provisions of the Advance Decision document will be based on what appears to be likely problems a person will experience based on their medical history. Ideally a person will talk through the contents of the Advance Decision document with their doctor. The disadvantage of this route is that the unexpected can arise medically and so the document will then not cover that area. 

The Lasting Power of Attorney has the advantage that if your medical situation changes and you can’t make a decision your attorney can still be your mouth piece if a decision needs to be made. This will work best if the attorney understands your views and preferences and is updated periodically so they can take those factors into account before reaching a decision which the law requires is in your best interests.

We have a dedicated and supportive team that are able to talk through with you the making of these documents and give you suggestions so that you can equip your attorneys to act, if that becomes necessary. For more information on putting in place a Power of Attorney read our latest insight, or contact a member of our specialist team and visit their hub page.

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