New Guidance on Lasting Powers of Attorney

29 January 2019

The Court of Protection has decided on test cases brought by the Public Guardian to assess the validity of Assisted Suicide provisions made in Lasting Powers of Attorney ('LPA').  The Court of Protection has ruled that an instruction or preference in an LPA for the attorney to assist the donor in ending their life would be ineffective.  This is because it would lead to the attorney acting unlawfully.  Instructions or preferences that are drafted in such a way to include a provision for assisted suicide should the law change are also ineffective. Due to the uncertainty of any potential new legislation in this area, any provision which is conditional on a change in the law would be considered too vague to be valid.

The Court was also clear that weight will be given to the wording of provisions, rather than simply which box it is in.  As such, if the wording of a preference in fact amounts to an instruction, it will be treated as an instruction – regardless of which box it is put in.

This guidance comes at a significant time for LPAs with recent statistics showing a tenfold increase in LPA uptake over the last 10 years.

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