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Why is it so important to have a Health & Welfare LPA in place if I lose mental capacity? Can’t my family just make the decisions for me?

Being able to make decisions about our own health and welfare is something we often take for granted. We often do not give much thought to what would happen if we lost the mental capacity to make these decisions for ourselves, often presuming that our loved ones would be able to make these decisions for us. However, without a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney in place, they would not be able to do this.

If medical treatment was required, doctors would consult with your close friends or family members but, ultimately, the final decision on how to proceed with your treatment would lay with your treating practitioners. Your family may be aware that this course of action would, perhaps, not be your preferred choice but, without a Health & Welfare LPA in place, they would be unable to enforce any other decision without applying to the court.

In addition, you may feel strongly about life-saving treatment (or a ‘do not resuscitate’ order) but if there is no Health & Welfare LPA in place clearly stating your wishes, it would be, again, down to your treating doctors to make a decision that they consider to be in your best interests. This may not correspond with your wishes.

In the event that care is required and mental capacity has been lost, without a Health & Welfare LPA in place it may be necessary for a friend or family member to apply to the Court of Protection to become a deputy. If there is no suitable friend or family member to take on this role the court may appoint a professional from a panel of carefully selected experts.

If an urgent decision needs to be made about somebody’s care it is possible to apply to the Court of Protection for an emergency order.

If you’d like to know more or are concerned about a friend of family member’s mental capacity and care requirements, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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