Managing the affairs of someone else – A professional appointment – Health and Welfare Decisions
There are two ways in which a person can be appointed as an ongoing basis to manage the affairs of someone else and this is by appointing them under a power of attorney or the Court of Protection appointing them under a deputy application. A person can appoint their loved ones or a professional whilst they retain the capacity to do so. The Court of Protection will appoint someone if this has not happened, they lose capacity and need someone to support them or take over. Health and welfare decisions can only be made when that person lacks capacity to make decisions for themselves, so they are always relying on the decision making of the attorney to make decisions that they would be happy with.
In general, a professional appointment of a solicitor tends to be for finances only, as it is generally accepted that loved ones would know the person well enough to make health and social care decisions, but it would be hard to make decisions against medical advice for a professional who doesn’t know what the individual would want. It is for this reason that the Court of Protection would be very unlikely to grant a health and welfare deputyship order to a solicitor.
So, there are limited circumstances in which I will agree to act as either deputy or attorney for health and welfare. The circumstances are either when they have no suitable family member to act and I have had an opportunity to sit down with them and go through their medical history and have an in-depth discussion about their care priorities.
The other circumstance that I will act is where I am co-attorney with a family member who lives further away and needs someone to be “on hand” to deal with the issues that arise. I would always defer to the family member who knows the person better, however with my experience, I can make suggestions to the co-attorney about how the persons care can be best managed. This arrangement works well, I stay in communication with the family member and they are able to effectively support their loved one from a long distance away. The attorneys and the person themselves know that the role will be undertaken professionally and that their distant loved one is supported in their attorney role, which can be distressing with an added element of feeling helpless through the distance in which they live away.
This is work that I love, I get to meet the person and make sure that they are cared for in a manner that is best suited to them and that their loved ones are informed, but still able to maintain their own lives. It is a great outcome for all!