The simple answer is that the person making the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is giving another person or persons (attorney) authority to make certain decisions on his or her behalf.
A property and affairs LPA, which provides your attorney with authority to deal with your property and finances, as you specify. A health and welfare LPA, which permits your attorney to make health and welfare care decisions on your behalf, only when you lack mental capacity to do so yourself. This could include if you wanted it to, the giving or refusing of consent to life sustaining treatment being continued.
Most people think that they only need a property and affairs LPA and that family and friends would be able to make health and welfare decisions on their behalf if they lost capacity. Unfortunately this is far from the case. If you lose capacity and have not made an LPA for health and welfare the Local Authority, the NHS Trust or the Court can become the decision maker for you. Is that what you want?
Once you have decided to proceed with an LPA you need to take care about who you should appoint to act as your attorney(s). They need to be trustworthy and have the appropriate skills to make the proposed decisions. If you have more than one attorney you can appoint them to act together or separately (jointly and severally) although it would probably be advisable to appoint them to act jointly for some things and jointly and severally for others.
Your attorney will only be able to act when the LPA has been signed by you and your attorney, certified by a person (the Certificate Provider) that you understand the nature and scope of the LPA and you have not been unduly pressurised into making the power. It will then be registered with the Office of Public Guardian. This must be done before it can be used. The property and financial affairs LPA can be used both when you have capacity to act, as well as when you lack capacity. The health and welfare LPA can only be used if you lack mental capacity to make welfare or medical decision.
If you have a registered health and welfare LPA and you have lost capacity the decisions of your attorney must be followed by medical or social care professionals unless there are extremely exceptional circumstances.
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