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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
MPs are currently debating whether some terminally ill people in England and Wales should be allowed to end their lives with medical supervision.
Whatever your opinion on the Dignity in Dying debate, and whatever the outcome of this proposed Assisted Dying Bill, I believe that making things as easy as possible for someone should they become unwell would be everyone’s wish for themselves and their relatives.
Yet a recent survey has found that only 15% of people aged 75 and over in the UK have put in place provision for someone to make financial or health decisions for them should they lose capacity in the future.
Something we here in the Wills Trusts and Probate team are seeing more and more in particular are enquiries about Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are documents prepared by you while you have capacity, which confirm, should you lose capacity in the future, who you appoint to manage your personal affairs. This means that you decide who acts for you should this happen, allowing you to choose a person or people you trust to do so.
There are two types – one for Property and Financial Matters, and one for Health and Welfare Matters (in which you can specify your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment). Once completed both documents must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, a government body, before they can be used. Once registered, however, either document can be used without delay.
We have seen a sharp increase in enquires from family members with a relative in hospital or care, where it is more common now for the care provider to ask that an LPA is produced. This step provides them with certainty as to who, in the event of a loss of capacity, can make decisions on their patient’s behalf.