Ac­tiv­at­ing a Lasting Power of At­torney for Health and Wel­fare

A woman holding flowers on the palm of hands
Catrin, UK Solicitor
13/03/2024 ● 4 minutes
If you're in the po­s­i­tion of need­ing to ac­tiv­ate a Health and Wel­fare Lasting Power of At­torney (LPA) for someone unable to make their own health­care de­cisions, this guide is for you.

First, let's cla­ri­fy what a Health and Wel­fare Lasting Power of At­torney means for you as someone who might need to ac­tiv­ate it. Es­sen­tially, it’s a legal doc­u­ment that allows an in­di­vidual (the donor) to ap­point one or more trusted people (the at­torney(s)) to make de­cisions about their health and wel­fare if they lose the mental ca­pa­city to make such de­cisions for them­selves.

The donor can spe­cify the types of de­cisions their at­tor­neys are au­thor­ised to make, such as medical treat­ment, res­id­en­tial care, and end-of-life care. The at­tor­neys ap­poin­ted under a Health and Wel­fare LPA have the au­thor­ity to make de­cisions on behalf of the donor only when the donor lacks the mental ca­pa­city to make those de­cisions them­selves.

Someone can lose mental ca­pa­city due to con­di­tions such as de­mentia, brain injury, or other ill­nesses. The at­tor­neys are ex­pec­ted to make de­cisions in the best in­terests of the donor, taking into ac­count any pre­vi­ously ex­pressed wishes and pref­er­ences of the donor, as well as con­sult­ing with health­care pro­fes­sion­als and other rel­ev­ant parties when ne­ces­sary.

These health and care de­cisions in­clude man­aging the donor’s medical care, daily life, and where they live, based on the power of at­torney they have set up giving you (as at­torney) re­spons­ib­il­ity for these choices. When you take on the role of the at­torney, you will need to step in to carry out the donor’s wishes at times when they're unable to com­mu­nic­ate or decide.

Create a Tail­ored Lasting Power of At­torney in 10 Minutes

Simply answer a few ques­tions to help us un­der­stand your situ­ation and pref­er­ences. The ser­vice will then per­son­al­ise your Lasting Power of At­torney (LPA) for you. After pay­ment, you can in­stantly down­load your doc­u­ment or opt for home de­liv­ery.

Try below for free!

Un­der­stand­ing a Health and Wel­fare LPA

If you’ve been ap­poin­ted as the chosen at­torney under a Health and Wel­fare LPA, you're the go-to person for de­cisions about the donor's medical care.

A Health and Wel­fare LPA only kicks in when the donor can't weigh in on their own care due to health reas­ons. It’s a big re­spons­ib­il­ity, but it’s also a big honour. You’re trusted to keep their best in­terests at heart, making calls on everything from doctor's visits to daily routines, based on what they would want.

⚠️ It’s im­port­ant to note that this LPA isn’t about money mat­ters - that’s a job for a Fin­an­cial LPA. In­stead, your re­spons­ib­il­it­ies here are fo­cused en­tirely on health and per­son­al well­being

Read more about dif­fer­ent LPAs on our Lasting Power of At­torney Guide

Are There Con­di­tions for Ac­tiv­at­ing a Power of At­torney?

When the donor be­comes unable to make health­care de­cisions due to loss of mental ca­pa­city, the power of at­torney will be ac­tiv­ated.

So, how ex­actly do you get to this point and ac­tiv­ate a Lasting Power of At­torney?

In the case of a Health and Wel­fare LPA, this typ­ic­ally in­volves a doctor's as­sess­ment using medical eval­u­ations to con­firm the donor's in­ca­pa­city.

The aim here is to ensure that the LPA is util­ised only when ne­ces­sary, re­spect­ing the donor's in­de­pend­ence until it be­comes es­sen­tial to in­ter­vene.

💡 Al­tern­at­ive for Lasting Power of At­torney is deputy­ship. The Court of Pro­tec­tion de­cides if you need a deputy be­cause you can't make de­cisions on your own any­more.

How to Ac­tiv­ate a Power of At­torney for Health & Wel­fare

By fol­low­ing these steps, you'll nav­ig­ate the LPA ac­tiv­a­tion pro­cess smoothly, look­ing out for the donor’s best in­terests.

  1. Re­cog­nising the Need for Ac­tiv­a­tion: Keep an eye out for changes in the donor's health that might signal they can't make de­cisions like they used to. This could be things like con­fu­sion, dif­fi­culty un­der­stand­ing in­form­a­tion, or not being able to com­mu­nic­ate clearly. The changes in the donor's health should be sig­ni­fic­ant and affect their de­cision-making abil­it­ies.
  2. Con­sult­ing Health­care Pro­fes­sion­als: If you think it's time, the next step is to talk with doc­tors or medical ex­per­ts who can assess the donor's con­di­tion. They'll need to provide of­fi­cial state­ments or cer­ti­fic­a­tions that con­firm the donor really can't make de­cisions on their own any­more.
  3. Com­plet­ing Re­quired Doc­u­ment­a­tion: So long as the LPA is valid and there are no dis­putes about it, gen­er­ally there is no need to com­plete fur­ther legal pa­per­work to form­ally ‘ac­tiv­ate’ your role as the at­torney to ensure you have the au­thor­ity to make de­cisions on the donor’s behalf. 
  4. No­ti­fy­ing Rel­ev­ant Parties: It's super im­port­ant to let every­one know what's hap­pen­ing. This in­cludes the donor (if pos­sible), close family mem­bers, and any health­care pro­viders in­volved. Clear com­mu­nic­a­tion helps make sure every­one un­der­stands the change in cir­cum­stances. No­ti­fy­ing rel­ev­ant parties should be done promptly and com­pre­hens­ively to ensure trans­par­ency and co­oper­a­tion among all in­volved parties.
  5. Court In­volve­ment (if ap­plic­able): Some­times, you may need court ap­prov­al to ac­tiv­ate the LPA, usu­ally if there's any un­cer­tainty around the donor’s abil­ity to make de­cisions. The cir­cum­stances under which court in­volve­ment may be ne­ces­sary, in­clude dis­putes over the valid­ity of the LPA or con­cerns about the donor's ca­pa­city. Seek­ing legal advice may be ne­ces­sary in such situ­ations.

Parties In­volved in Ac­tiv­at­ing the LPA Health and Wel­fare

Nav­ig­at­ing the re­spons­ib­il­it­ies and rights within a Power of At­torney ar­range­ment in­volves un­der­stand­ing the dis­tinct roles of the donor, at­torney, and health­care pro­viders.

  • The Donor: Even if they're in­ca­pa­cit­ated, the donor has rights. It's key to keep them in­formed and in­volved as much as pos­sible and re­spect their wishes throughout the pro­cess. 
  • The At­torney: As the at­torney, your role is to step into the donor's shoes, making health and wel­fare de­cisions as they would. This means know­ing their values and wishes inside out and en­sur­ing every choice re­flects what they would want, not your per­son­al pref­er­ences.
  • Health­care Pro­viders: Health­care pro­fes­sion­als will work closely with you as the at­torney, provid­ing medical advice and in­sight to guide your de­cisions. They must also re­cog­nise the ac­tiv­ated LPA, en­sur­ing your de­cisions are fol­lowed in the donor's care.

Read more: What is an LPA Ac­tiv­a­tion Key?

Prac­tical Tips for At­tor­neys

The role of an At­torney can oc­ca­sion­ally be over­whelming. Here are some prac­tical tips to ensure everything pro­ceeds smoothly.

  • Know the Donor’s Wishes: Spend time un­der­stand­ing the donor’s values and pref­er­ences for health­care and per­son­al wel­fare. This might in­volve con­ver­sa­tions, writ­ten wishes, or Living Wills.
  • Keep Clear Re­cords: Doc­u­ment every de­cision you make and the reas­ons behind them. This will help if there are ever ques­tions about why you chose a cer­tain path.
  • Com­mu­nic­ate Ef­fect­ively: Keep open lines of com­mu­nic­a­tion with family mem­bers, health­care pro­viders, and anyone else in­volved in the donor’s care. Clear, honest con­ver­sa­tions can pre­vent mis­un­der­stand­ings.
  • Seek Advice When Needed: Don’t hes­it­ate to con­sult legal or medical pro­fes­sion­als for guid­ance on com­plex de­cisions or when facing un­cer­tainty.
  • Prac­tice Em­pathy: Re­mem­ber, at the heart of your role is a person whose wishes and wel­fare are in your hands. Ap­proach every de­cision with care and em­pathy, as if the donor were making it them­selves.

Read more on How to Use Lasting Power of At­torney?

Caring for Your Loved Ones with a Health and Wel­fare LPA

Fol­low­ing this guide and our tips will ensure that the LPA ac­tiv­a­tion pro­cess goes smoothly, making a chal­len­ging time a little easier for every­one in­volved.

Personal legal assistance at your fingertips
Coming soon
Lasting power of attorney
Living will
Contact us
Lemuntie 3-5 A 00510 Helsinki 2901500-3
Aatos Legal Technology ltd Company Number 15368786 1 Chapel Street, Warwick, United Kingdom, CV34 4HL
© Aatos Legal Technology 2024