How important are Lasting Powers of Attorney
Until quite recently, I thought I knew how important are Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), after all, we often discuss them with our clients and encourage them to consider making them. There are two different types of LPA, both are equally important but for different reasons.
Property and Finance
If I had to choose which one was more important, I had always leaned slightly more towards Property and Finance. Simply because if I lost mental capacity, I would want someone that I trust to take control of my money, to ensure that my bills are paid so I can keep a roof over my head.
Health and Welfare
Although I thought that a Health and Welfare LPA would be useful to me, I figured that doctors know a lot more about medications and treatments, so I imagined I would be happy for them to take control if anything should happen to me.
What Happened To My Family
In recent months I have come to learn that a Health and Welfare LPA is more important than I could have ever imagined.
At the beginning of July, my Grandmother became seriously ill and was admitted to hospital. She wasn’t expected to make it through the night so we gathered by her bedside expecting the worst.
Amazingly, she survived the night, but the doctors didn’t hold out much hope for a recovery, it was agreed to issue a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) due to the severity of her condition.
My grandmother was too weak to withstand invasive diagnostic procedures so the doctors had to make an educated guess about what was causing her to be so unwell. They decided on her treatment and filled her with fluids and antibiotics. They informed us that it was a waiting game to see if her condition improved.
Over the next few days we were heavily reliant on what the doctors told us. They said that the treatment didn’t appear to be working and we were told that she was unlikely to make a recovery. They would complete the course of antibiotics, but if my Grandmothers condition remained the same then they would cease treating her and make her ‘comfortable.’
By the end of treatment, there was a slight improvement in her physical condition but she was still seriously ill and hadn’t responded as well to the treatment as they had hoped. They informed us that they would withdraw further treatment but keep her comfortable with pain relief and fluids.
As the next few days passed my Grandmother had good days and bad days, on her good days the doctors decided she had improved enough to continue her treatment, and when she was having a bad day, treatment was stopped and they reverted to making her ‘comfortable.’
Days turned into weeks and this continued, as a family we were constantly living in a state of confusion, not knowing what was happening from one day to the next. My Grandmother continued to gradually improve able to talk to us coherently, yet the doctors felt her prognosis was still poor.
After several weeks my Grandmother had had enough, she begged us to stop the doctors from continually poking her with needles and taking her blood. She was in a lot of pain and no longer wanted to be treated.
Back in 2007 my Grandmother had suffered a severe stroke, which had resulted in her being paralysed down one side and left her often feeling confused. This meant she couldn’t make a Lasting Power of Attorney as she was no longer deemed to have ‘mental capacity.’ So while she was unable to make her own decisions, she wasn’t able to appoint someone (i.e My Grandfather) to make the decisions for her, leaving her completely at the mercy of the doctors.
For 8 weeks her treatment was started and stopped, until she felt strong enough to refuse to allow the doctors to administer any further treatment and eventually she was released from hospital.
So how important are Lasting Powers of Attorney? Having experienced first hand the suffering my Grandmother endured, because she hadn’t got an LPA, I now know just how essential they are, and I would urge any one of any age to simply get on and do it. You just never know when you might need it, after all, up until the day my Grandmother suffered her stroke she was in perfect health!