Lasting powers of attorney for health and welfare

A review of the legal process that allows an individual to appoint trusted individuals to act for them in the event they lose capacity.

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Author: Angharad Lynn, Associate at VWV. Reviewed by Luke Koupparis, general practitioner, Bristol.

Key learning points

  • A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows an individual (a "donor") to appoint trusted individuals to act for them in the event they lose capacity.
  • There are two types of LPA - one for health and welfare and one for property and financial affairs.
  • LPAs were introduced by the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
  • Individuals over 18 may make LPAs as long as they have capacity to do so.
  • A doctor may be required to act as a "certificate provider" if there is any doubt whether the donor has the mental capacity to enter into an LPA.
  • If the donor does not have capacity then a deputyship order may be applied for.
  • Professional input can minimise the risk of abuse.

What is a lasting power of attorney?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document. It allows an individual (known as a donor) to appoint one or more individuals to manage their personal affairs in the event that they lose the capacity to do so themselves.

There are two types of LPA, one for property and financial affairs and one for health and welfare, which is the LPA with which this article is concerned. LPAs were introduced by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Before this act came into force on 1 October 2007, individuals could make enduring powers of attorney, however these were restricted to property and financial matters and so, when individuals wished to give directions to close relatives relating to health matters they would usually make an advance directive or living Will.

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