What Does Being A Health And Welfare Attorney Entail?

Updated: Jan 17

If you have been appointed as an attorney under a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), this means you will legally be able to make decisions for the ‘donor’ (person who appointed you) in accordance with their wishes in the document. It is your legal responsibility to always act honestly and in the best interests of the donor.

If you are an attorney under the Health & Welfare LPA you are able to make decisions about where the donor lives, their day-to-day routine, personal care and medical treatments.

When you have been appointed as an Attorney, it’s a good idea to sit down and have a chat with the donor about their wishes. You may wish to discuss the following things with them:

- Any special diets (e.g. no pork, vegan, pescatarian).

- Where they want to live

- Who they want to care for their pets

- What clothes and hairstyles they like

- They’re hobbies and favourite music, TV shows, movies or books

- If they like spending time mostly indoors or outdoors

- They’re favourite foods

- Things they like to do

It’s also a good idea to check with the donor if they have made any care plans should anything happen to them. Sometimes people make advanced decisions to refuse specific treatments that health and social care staff can follow, and it’s best to be aware of these things. You should also talk about their wishes to be kept alive, such as whether they would wish to be resuscitated.

Be prepared by making sure you have important contact details at the ready such as their GP and dentist. You should also know where the LPA document is kept. Should it be lost or destroyed, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) can make a copy for £35.

In accordance with the law, you must assume that the donor can make decisions, unless it’s shown that they can’t. If they can make decisions, it’s your responsibility to help them reach them. You can try and explain a scenario in different ways, for example images or sign language. In the case that the donor does not have the mental capacity to make a decision, you should try to follow guidance in the LPA. Make sure you follow any LPA restrictions or conditions and don’t make assumptions based on the donor’s age, condition or appearance. It can be helpful to ask others close to the donor what they think they would do.

If you make a significant decision for the donor, be sure to keep a record of it and note down why it was in their best interests. You should always avoid decisions that restrict the donor’s freedom and look for an option with less of an impact. If the donor can’t make decisions, it’s important to make people aware that they should contact you. This includes family and friends, carers, and healthcare staff.

You may not be the only attorney appointed in the LPA. The document will state how you should act together. These options include:

- Jointly and severally (you can decide with other attorneys or by yourself)

- Jointly (all attorneys must agree every decision)

- Jointly for some decisions and jointly and severally for others (you must agree decisions that are set out in the LPA with all the attorneys. You can make the others alone).

In the case that a decision has to be made jointly and an agreement can’t be reached, the decision can’t be made. In this situation, it’s a good idea to ask family and friends what the donor would want. Advocacy or mediation can be used. Alternatively, the OPG may be able to advise, or you may need to apply to the Court of Protection which could cost upwards of £1000.

For more information about LPAs get in touch with Kindred Estate Planning today.