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Legally Speaking: Lasting Powers of Attorney

Posted on 27 May 2020 by Catherine Murton

Legally Speaking: Lasting Powers of Attorney

Lockdown certainly gives us the opportunity to discover our hidden talents and strengths. My partner, Martin, has built a deck in our garden having never done any DIY in his life. YouTube tutorials and a lot of patience have paid off! For my part, I ventured into the darkness of our inglenook fireplace to rescue a pigeon that haplessly fluttered down one evening. I have never been very brave with flapping birds and there was real satisfaction (for me and the pigeon!) when I released it outside. These are strange times but we can only make the best of them and maybe come out of the other side truly appreciating the little things, like a hug or a bag of chips at the seaside.

It is easy to focus on the negatives, especially with media reports of people being abusive to workers in supermarkets, photographs of groups sunbathing in parks and businesses struggling to survive but, personally, I have seen many acts of kindness and there is a real sense of the Community protecting our elderly and vulnerable. On a day-to-day basis this can mean dropping groceries and medication on the doorstep or ringing those in total isolation just for a chat.

However, what about assisting with bill payments or insurance renewals and, very importantly, who will make welfare decisions if that person is unable to make decisions for themselves? For those people who have already executed a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare, these decisions can be taken by the named Attorneys. Health decisions can only be made on behalf of someone if they are unable to make the decisions for themselves. However, for those in total isolation, the Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney can be used with the donor’s permission.

If you are an Attorney for someone in a care home it is essential that you provide the home with a certified copy of the Lasting Power of Attorney. This will ensure that the Attorneys are consulted on all health decisions if the donor cannot make those decisions for themselves. It is a very powerful document that gives the Attorneys the legal right to overrule decisions made by all health professionals and Social Services, although of course mostly this would not be necessary.

When my team prepare Lasting Power of Attorney documents for clients we often include guidance on matters such as resuscitation, care preferences, artificial feeding and any other viewpoint that the donor may feel strongly about. This can be incredibly useful as a starting point on the type of care that should be provided and ensures that the donor’s wishes are respected.

Client confidentiality means that, without a Lasting Power of Attorney, care homes, GPs and hospitals will not share information with anyone. It can leave concerned relatives and friends somewhat in the dark and frustrated at not being able to assist their loved ones. It can also mean decisions being taken by someone who barely knows the patient.

If you would like advice on using a Power of Attorney where you are the appointed Attorney or would like to execute a Lasting Power of Attorney then please contact me on 01935 382680 or, alternatively, at catherine.murton@pardoes.co.uk. Pardoes are offering full client legal services throughout the pandemic via telephone and video conferencing. We can arrange for all necessary documents to be signed or certified as necessary and will make home visits where appropriate, adopting all social distancing protocols. There is no charge for an initial enquiry so please call if we can be of any assistance.

Posted in: Court of Protection & Powers of Attorney