Fans of TV serial Emmerdale will have seen the character Faith Dingle navigating difficult times in recent episodes following her cancer diagnosis and contemplation of her end-of-life decisions. Faith ultimately decided to sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order and to appoint her son as her Attorney.
Viewers will have seen Faith discussing her Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) with her palliative care nurse and solicitor, and the episode served as a helpful reminder of the importance of making informed decisions and discussing concerns with experts. It also highlighted how valuable it is to be able to exercise control over people’s own decisions for as long as possible and to choose who can make those decisions once they are no longer able to.
It is important to remember that whilst Health and Welfare attorneys can only make decisions if/when a client has lost the capacity to make or communicate those decisions themselves, Property and Financial Affairs attorneys can be appointed so that they can assist with managing client’s affairs even when they still have capacity (but only on their say so). The law makes it very clear that your attorneys are to act in client’s best interests and to support them to make their own decisions, in so far as possible, and this allows many to go on living the lives they want with the help and support of those they have chosen to assist them.
Individuals are often prompted to consider or make Lasting Powers of Attorney following a “trigger event”, for example an accident or diagnosis, but this is not always the ideal time to make them, as Lasting Powers of Attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before they can be used.
The magic of TV meant that Faith Dingle’s LPAs were completed online and registered within days, but the reality is that the OPG is struggling with a huge backlog, with Lasting Powers of Attorney taking more than five months to be registered. At present Lasting Powers of Attorney cannot be digitally registered, but many are welcoming the proposals for updating and modernising the process for making Lasting Powers of Attorney.