Blended families

Families are traditionally thought of as nuclear families consisting of a couple and their dependent children. The modern-day family is now a lot more complicated due to divorce rates increasing and bringing children from previous marriages into the family dynamics.

Lifetime planning can be difficult at the best of times, but with the added complexity of a blended family, it can become problematic if you do not put the correct safeguards in place.

Deciding who can make your decisions for you when you are no longer able is something that should be carefully considered. If you are a spouse, you may have assumed that your other half would automatically be able to make decisions about your healthcare. This is not the case. Without a Health and Welfare LPA appointing your spouse as an attorney, they have no authority to act.

By having a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) you are ensuring that you are appointing attorneys of your choice to make healthcare decisions about you, should you lose mental capacity.

A Health and Welfare LPA only comes into effect once you have lost mental capacity and your attorneys will be able to make decisions about the following:-

  • Medical care
  • Moving into a care home
  • Life-sustaining treatment
  • Your daily routine i.e. eating and dressing etc.
  • Who you should have contact with
  • Social activities

It is important to ensure that you trust your appointed attorneys to act in your best interest. You can choose how you would like your attorneys to act, for example appointing attorneys jointly means that all of your attorneys will have to agree unanimously on every decision. Alternatively, appointing attorneys to act jointly and severally means that attorneys can make decisions on their own or together.

If, for example, you are appointing your children and step-children to act as your attorneys, then you should be mindful as to how your attorneys should be able to make decisions. What if there was a family fall out and your child does not agree with your step-child on a decision about your care?  Should you not include your step-child? But what if you would have agreed with your step-child?

You could also be in a position where you have appointed your new spouse as your attorney, but should you lose capacity, will they still treat your children as their own in making decisions about your care? 

Your LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in order for the document to be used. This acts as a safeguard as, without it being registered centrally, the document could be subject to abuse.

You should therefore think carefully about who you are appointing as your attorneys. It may be beneficial for an informal family meeting to discuss your future needs to prevent a family fall out.

Our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team at Birkett Long has experience in drafting LPAs and can advise you as to the best way to appoint your potential attorneys. 

 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.