Q: My son’s father-in-law died of coronavirus and ever since my son has wanted me to put something in writing about how I would want things to happen if I became unexpectedly ill and lost mental capacity. I have identified various options but am more concerned about the health aspect than what happens about money. Can you explain the difference between a Living Will and a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A: An LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) comes in two parts. One deals with Property and Financial Affairs, whilst the other deals with health and welfare. In both cases you appoint one or more attorneys to make decisions on your behalf and handle your affairs, including paying your bills, dealing with property maintenance, sale etc. Decisions attorneys might make about health and welfare include such as where you live, how you are cared for and who should make decisions about whether you receive life-sustaining treatment.
A Living Will, also known as an Advanced Decision, relates solely to your health. It covers refusals of medical treatment and applies only to the treatments and circumstances that you state on the form. Situations not covered in your Living Will won’t apply. The all-important issue is that the outcome is your decision and not someone else’s.
A Living Will can be used as soon as it has been completed, signed, and witnessed. An LPA cannot be used until it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. It is possible to have both a Living Will and an LPA, but the one made most recently will override the other in respect of refusal of treatment. If you have set up both documents, you should inform the attorney(s) named on your LPA and provide them with a copy of your Living Will. It is always advisable to have a solicitor draw up legal documents to ensure no mistakes are made and they are valid.
This question has been answered by Ulia Choudhry, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
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