There is a widespread misconception held by many people that your next of kin can make important decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
The Office of Public Guardian has recently posted that:
72% of people think a next of kin can automatically make medical decisions on their behalf if needed to. This is not true.
In order to be able to make these decisions a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) needs to be put in place and registered.
The Health & Welfare LPA once registered appoints attorneys chosen by you who can make decisions about things such as your medical care or where you live.
Within the LPA there is an option on whether or not to give your attorney permission to make decisions about life sustaining treatment. This decision could include whether or not you receive surgery, or what type of medicine you receive.
This type of LPA can only be used when you can no longer make health and welfare decisions for yourself. It cannot be used while you still have the mental capacity to make your own decisions.
The Health & Welfare LPA is therefore a very important legal document to ensure that people you trust are appointed to look after you when you can no longer look after yourself.