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Lasting power of attorney

What is it?

A third party is appointed (in advance) to make decisions on the patient’s behalf should they lose capacity. The third party may be one person or more than one person. If the latter, they can be appointed to act together (‘jointly’); or so that each can make decisions alone (‘jointly and severally’). The third party may be a relative/friend or legal advocate. There are two types of lasting power of attorney: health and welfare; and property and finance affairs.

Learn more about each type

Health and welfare

  • For decisions regarding health
  • Only takes effect if the patient lacks capacity
  • The third party can make decisions as if they were the patient. They can decide about the patient’s:
    • Daily routine
    • Medical care
    • Moving into a care home
    • Refusing life-saving treatment
  • However, the power of attorney only has the right to refuse offered medical treatments, not to choose which treatments to have

Property and finance affairs

  • For decisions regarding finances, bills, pensions, and selling property 
  • Can take effect immediately with patient’s consent

How to register

  • There is a fee payable to the Office of the Public Guardian to register a power of attorney, and there will also be legal fees if a solicitor is used             
  • Application can be made via a solicitor or independently online or by paper forms (
  • Documents will also need to be signed by witnesses

Test your knowledge with a scenario

A 72 year old patient is admitted to the hospital with type 2 respiratory failure due to a COPD exacerbation. They have failed medical management and are failing non-invasive ventilation (NIV). The patient is now unconscious. Your consultant has made the decision to stop NIV and commence end of life care. You call the patient’s daughter (next of kin) in to inform them; however, they are not happy with this decision and present LPA paperwork. They insist that the NIV is not stopped.

What is the legal standing?

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How would you manage the situation?

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