Following the Judgment held in the recent case of M v A Hospital  the Court decided that there is no legal obligation upon medical practitioners to seek the sanction of the Court before withdrawing clinically assisted nutrition and hydration from patients in a permanently vegetative state or minimally conscious state, where all concerned are in agreement that to provide such treatment is no longer in the person’s best interests. Critically, the judgment allows, where relatives and doctors agree and all medical guidelines are being observed, for the decision on withdrawal to be made without an application to the Court.
This poses a question for us all – Who would you want to have the power to discuss your life sustaining treatment with Doctors and to assist with making decisions about your own health and welfare if you were not in a position to do so yourself? In light of the stance taken by the Court, it is increasingly important that everyone has made provisions to ensure that they have the correct people making decisions about their health related affairs.
While you have the ability to do so, everyone over 18 should complete a Lasting Power of Attorney to cover unforeseen situations should they arise, which prevent you from looking after your own affairs. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney – Financial Decisions and Health and Welfare Decisions, which if prepared would allow you to appoint someone you trust to manage your affairs and to make decisions on your behalf if you became unable to do so.
A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare will allow you to appoint someone you trust to make health and care decisions for you, if you can’t. For example; where you live, your day to day care, access to your information or crucially authority to make decisions regarding life sustaining treatment.
A Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Finance will enable you to appoint someone to manage your bank accounts and investments, sell property, manage business interests and liaise with official organisations on your behalf, such as the Department for Work and Pensions/HM Revenue and Customs.
Having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place and ready to be used if required, gives people the peace of mind that if they ever lose capacity, the important decisions about their life can be taken by someone they have chosen and trust. If you require assistance in preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney, or any need more advice please contact our Wills, Tax and Probate team on 01922 720333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org