Why You Need A Health And Welfare Power Of Attorney
Veronica Male, a Chartered Legal Executive at Tollers says “Most people in good health do not think about arranging a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney. If you do not have one in place, it can be very difficult for the people you trust to ensure that you get the treatment and care you would have chosen for yourself, if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.”
What is a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney?
It is a legal document that must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, that allows your chosen attorney(s) the authority to make decisions about your health and welfare when you are not able to do so.
If you do not have a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney decisions about your care and treatment will be made by doctors and social workers in your best interests, after consulting with your family. The person you trust would not be the decision maker and this could mean you may end up receiving care in a way that you would not have chosen for yourself.
Who can be your attorney?
Anyone over the age of 18 years and has the mental capacity to act as an attorney can be appointed by you.
The attorney should be someone you trust to act in accordance with your wishes and who will put your best interests first.
What is the process of arranging a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney?
You decide and choose who you want to be your attorney, you can appoint one person or several people. Choosing multiple attorneys can be useful, as if one of your attorneys is unable to act, the other attorneys can still act under the power you have granted them.
The attorneys provide their details and sign the Health and Welfare Power of Attorney to confirm that they are happy to act as your attorneys.
A person known as a “certificate provider” will discuss the power of attorney with you in private and then confirm that you understand the power you are giving to your attorneys. If you have a medical condition, that might affect your understanding of the attorneyship then a medical practitioner could be asked to be the “certificate provider” and will charge you for this service.
You will need to sign the document and then decide whether to register the Health and Welfare Power of Attorney now or keep it to register at a later date. The registration process can take between 12-14 weeks. Due to the length of the waiting time for registration, our advice is to register it straight away as your Attorney(s) may need to make a decision urgently.
When you are thinking about making a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney, you can decide whether your attorney has the right to make decisions about life sustaining treatment and you can indicate this in the document by completing Section A of the document. You can also use the instructions and preference boxes to give more detail.
The important thing to remember is that the Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare can only be used when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
So what decisions can your attorney make?
Your attorney make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment, where you live and what care you receive.
If you have granted the attorney(s) the authority in the document, to make life sustaining treatment decisions they will put those representations forward to your medical team. As an additional safeguard we recommend that a copy of your Health and Welfare Power of Attorney be lodged with your General Practitioner.
Veronica Male, goes on to say “Although the document may look simple, it is very important that you get independent legal advice to ensure you are appointing the right people to act as your attorneys and you understand the powers you are granting them.”
If you would like to know more about making a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney, Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and one of our specialist lawyers will be happy to help and advise.