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Reasons for making a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

A what?  What's one of them and why should I have one?

A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney covers decisions about your health and physical care; such as where you live, your day-to-day care, who can visit you, what you eat and the type of activities you take part in. You can also appoint your attorney to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment. 

Problems that can arise without one

Let us look at the case of SP. This lady suffered a cardiac arrest in October 2014 when she was only 50 years old. She was kept alive in hospital but never regained consciousness. In April 2015 she was diagnosed as being in a permanent vegetative state (PVS). Two meetings were held to consider SP’s “best interests”. In October 2016, a full two years after her initial heart attack, it was agreed with the hospital and her family and all relevant parties that withdrawing life support was in SP’s best interests as she had always maintained that she would not like to live like this, in a PVS.

However, SP did not have a Health and Welfare Lasting Power Of Attorney so the Official Solicitor had to apply to the Court of Protection on her behalf. The Official Solicitor agreed to act for SP in January 2017 and proceedings were issued in March 2018. He had to get a decision from the court to allow the withdrawal of life support (known as Clinically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration). The court gave its decision (to consent to the withdrawal of life support) in April 2018.

What is quite notable here is the length of time that SP had to spend in a persistent vegetative state, something she had said that she did not want.

The Solution

All of this intervening period was a considerable strain and time of stress for the whole family. Had SP made a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, her attorneys would have been able to make a decision in her best interests (guided by medical advice) far more quickly than the long winded legal process.  

This would have been a lot easier for the family reducing a lot of family stress.

Moral: make a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. You don’t know when you’ll need one.

on August 26 at 3:08

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