Statistics show that an increasing number of people are making Lasting Powers of Attorney, and nearly half of those registered now relate to Health and Welfare. We urge everyone reaching an age where ‘end of life decisions’ are becoming an issue to consider putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare (LPAHW). What happens if you do not and you are unable to make relevant decisions for yourself?
- Medical personnel and care workers have rely on the common law doctrine of ‘necessity’ for authority to help you. This allows them to decide for you based on what they think is in your best interests. They may well take into account the views of ‘next of kin’, but they are not obliged to.
- You may be given medical treatment to which you would not have consented had you been asked. Decisions about continuing life-sustaining treatment will be left to medical professionals.
- Care arrangements may be put in place which do not suit you, perhaps because of the location of the placement, or details of your day-to-day routine. Again, ‘next-of-kin’ will not be the decision makers.
All these points can be addressed in a LPAHW, in some cases supplemented by an “Advance Decision” (formerly a Living Will) specifically addressing life-sustaining treatment.