Growing numbers of people risk their wishes regarding life-saving treatment being ignored because their financial Lasting Power Of Attorney does not cover their health, warn Coles Miller Solicitors.
Lasting Power Of Attorney (LPA) enables people to delegate important decisions to their loved ones or trusted advisers when they may not be able to make those decisions themselves.
But there are two types of LPA: a Personal Health & Welfare LPA and a Property & Affairs LPA. Each must be registered with the Court of Protection in order to be valid.
People are increasingly discovering that the Property & Affairs LPA they have taken out will not cover them for important medical decisions required by hospitals or paramedics.
Coles Miller Bournemouth Associate Solicitor Stuart Bradford said: “We are noticing a lot more demand for the Personal Health & Welfare Power of Attorney.
“This demand is coming particularly from people with an existing Property & Affairs LPA or its predecessor, the Enduring Power of Attorney,” added Mr Bradford, a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).
He recommended that families reviewed their power of attorney agreements regularly to ensure they covered the required circumstances - in the same way they would with a will.
“Banks, care homes and local authorities now are much better at dealing with powers of attorney than they were when they were first introduced,” said Mr Bradford.
But they are now much more likely to be more specific about which type of LPA they required before carrying out an individual’s wishes, he added.
Mr Bradford said: “The consequence of not having the correct power of attorney is having to go to the Court of Protection.
“It could cost £3,000 to get a court order, compared with £500 to draft and register a Property & Affairs LPA or £700 to £800 for both LPAs,” he added.
Earlier in October it was revealed that the government is planning to streamline the process of drawing up a Lasting Power of Attorney by removing the need for a witness.
The government is also suggesting a simple box for individuals to tick in advance if they do not wish to be resuscitated following a medical collapse. The current LPA form has a more detailed section which requires a witnessed signature.
Coles Miller is echoing concerns by anti-euthanasia groups that some vulnerable and confused individuals may choose non-resuscitation by mistake.
Mr Bradford said: “People could tick the wrong box without really thinking about the consequences.”
Campaigners fear that families would be powerless to take action after a loved one died because they would simply be shown the form with the non-resuscitation box ticked.
Dorset-based Coles Miller has five offices in Poole, Bournemouth, Broadstone, Charminster and Wimborne.
Its 110-strong legal team includes solicitors specialising in Court of Protection applications, powers of attorney, wills, probate and trusts.
They also help families to fund care for elderly relatives and ensure they have dignity and as much independence as possible in the later years of their life.
Coles Miller’s work in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset also includes conveyancing; leasehold property law; divorce and child custody; employment law; planning and litigation.
The firm also helps businesses with company law; commercial property; disputes and litigation; debt recovery and marine law.
Across the UK, Coles Miller assists clients with legal advice on medical negligence and personal injury.
For more information about powers of attorney, please contact Coles Miller Associate Solicitors Stuart Bradford, 01202 293226.