There are some important differences between an Advance Decision and a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney:
An Advance Decision comes into effect as soon as it has been signed and witnessed correctly.
A Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is only valid once it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, which can take up to eight weeks.
Advance Decisions only apply to the specific treatments and circumstances you write about in the document. It won’t apply if you find yourself in a situation that you didn’t include when you wrote it. Your Attorney in a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can make any decision about your health and welfare on your behalf, regardless of whether or not you considered the situation at the time of writing.
- People involved
To complete your Advance Decision, you need one person to witness it (although it is highly recommended that you have 2 witnesses, and also getting your GP to sign to witness that you have mental capacity at the time of signing the document which can be critical in certain circumstances.
To appoint an Attorney in your Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, you need one or more people to act as your Attorney, as well as a witness, an independent person or relevant professional to ‘certify’ your application, and up to 5 persons to be notified of the application.
An Advance Decision is free. A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney currently costs £110 to register, although those on a low income or certain benefits don’t have to pay.
Healthcare professionals involved in your care need to know that you have made an Advance Decision or a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. This happens in different ways:
Advance Decisions are not centrally registered anywhere but you can give a copy to your GP or local hospital. Some Ambulance Trusts are also happy to record that you have one. You can carry a Notice of Advance Decision card or join MedicAlert and wear a piece of jewellery that says you have an Advance Decision.
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and then entered onto a register which is searchable by healthcare professionals caring for you.
Should I make both an Advance Decision and an LPA?
That depends on your circumstances and should be considered carefully with your lawyer in conjunction with your loved ones and your GP if necessary.
This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.
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