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Choosing an attorney for a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare

Your attorney can be anyone over the age of 18, such as a partner, family member or friend.

You need to trust your attorney to understand your wishes, respect your values and make the decisions that you would want. Your attorney must be able to make potentially difficult decisions on your behalf, so it’s important that you discuss your wishes with anyone who you’d like to act as your attorney.

Questions to ask when choosing your attorney

To help you decide who to choose, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • Do they understand my wishes?
  • Will they respect my values?
  • Could they stand up for what I want, even if a doctor disagrees?

Can I have more than one attorney?

Yes, you can have more than one attorney. There’s no limit to the number of attorneys you can have. You can also choose one or several replacement attorneys who will take over if your original attorney can’t continue to act.

If you have more than one attorney then you can choose how they make decisions.

Your attorneys can act in one of three ways:

Jointly and severally

If you choose for your attorneys to act ‘jointly and severally’ then they can act together but they can also act on their own. This means, for example, that if you were in hospital and a decision needed to be made on your behalf but the doctors could only get in contact with one of your attorneys, then that one attorney could still make the decision for you.

If you choose for your attorneys to act jointly and severally it also means that if one attorney is unable to act, for example because they have died, the remaining attorneys will still be able to act. If you’ve chosen any replacement attorneys, they can step in to act with the remaining attorneys.

Jointly

If you choose for your attorneys to act jointly then your attorneys must make decisions together and agree unanimously on all the decisions they make. This means that if you were in hospital and a decision needed to be made on your behalf but the doctors could only get in contact with one of your attorneys, then that one attorney wouldn’t be able to make the decision for you. This is because all attorneys have to agree before anything can be done.

Choosing your attorneys to act jointly also means that if one attorney is unable to act, for example because they’ve died, then your LPA will become invalid and the remaining attorneys won’t be able to make decisions for you. If you have chosen any replacement attorneys, they’ll step in to act alone.

Jointly for some decisions, and jointly and severally for other decisions

This means you can specify the decisions that must be made together and the decisions where the attorneys can act alone. If you don’t specify how your attorneys must act when you fill in the form, then they’ll have to act jointly.