What is a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, and how do you use it?

elderly man with wife or carer and cup of tea

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)* is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more trusted individuals, who are known as attorneys, to make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity.

The advice below focuses on the Health and Welfare LPA. You can establish a separate LPA for Property and Financial Affairs.

What does a Health and Welfare LPA cover?

In the event that you lose mental capacity, a Health and Welfare LPA allows your attorney (or attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf about where you live and who you have contact with, as well as medical, dental and optical care.

When you establish the LPA, you can also decide if you would like your attorney(s) to have the power to refuse or consent to life-sustaining treatment. If you do not wish to make an LPA, but you would like your medical care wishes known, you can prepare an Advance Decision. If you already have an Advance Decision in place, it can be affected by an LPA, so it’s best to discuss both with your advisor.

What happens if I don’t have a Health and Welfare LPA?

If you don’t have an LPA and subsequently lose your mental capacity, the professionals looking after you, such as your GP or social worker, will make the decisions for you. They will also take your family’s views into account.

Important considerations

With such important responsibilities, it is crucial that you consider your choice of attorney very carefully. Read our article: Who should I choose to be my attorney?

You can cancel your LPA at any time, before or after registration, as long as you have the mental capacity to do so.

* This article applies to English and Welsh LPAs. Different rules apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Heledd Wyn TEP is Associate Director, Head of Long-Term & Elderly Care, at Gregg Latchams Ltd, Bristol


An article of this kind can never provide a complete guide to the law in these areas, which may be subject to change from time to time. The opinions and suggestions made within this article should not be interpreted as specific advice in relation to any particular individual or individuals. Neither STEP, the article author or their firm accept responsibility for any loss occasioned by someone acting or refraining to act on the basis of the opinions and suggestions contained in this article. More