If Bradley Visser had not given his wife Lasting Power of Attorney status, he could still be alive today – severely brain damaged, unable to enjoy his life and family in the way he wanted and denied his wish to ‘die with dignity’.
The 38-year-old father of two young children suffered a traumatic brain injury in an electric skateboard crash and was treated in hospital for six days for a brain haemorrhage before developing double pneumonia.
His wife Annie, as his Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), was able to prove by producing this vital legal document, that her husband did not want to live with brain damage. On July 25, his life support was turned off and he died two days later.
“If he couldn’t be a daddy….”
Mrs Visser told the BBC: “If he couldn’t be a daddy, if he couldn’t go to a rugby match, if he couldn’t provide for his family by working, and if he couldn’t be physically active, he didn’t want to be here.”
This heart-breaking story illustrates graphically just why LPAs are so important. In fact, in Mrs Visser’s opinion, they are even more important than Wills because they give clarity and comfort, knowing you are carrying out your loved one’s wishes.
Mr Visser had previously specifically stipulated in this LPA that his wife should not try to keep him alive if certain ‘life perimeters’ were not met.
“It is document with far more importance than a Will, yet no-one knows of it,” she said. “That is what I am trying to change.
“I genuinely think that if I didn’t have this piece of paper, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.
“The guilt of having to make a decision with no background knowledge on what the person genuinely wants is actually worse than the end result.
“I have been able to be as strong as I have been for myself and the children purely because every step of the way I feel like I have Brad stood next to me.”
Peace of Mind
Preparing a Health and Welfare LPA enables you to record your wishes and be crystal clear about your views on life sustaining treatment while you still can.
Hopefully, you will never need it, but this type of LPA gives you the peace of mind of knowing your family understand exactly what you want if there comes a time when you are not able to communicate your wishes because of something like a severe brain injury.
With one estimate putting the number of NHS patients in England in either a permanent vegetative or minimally conscious state at 24,000 and another, which includes those in nursing homes, suggesting there could be as many as 64,000 people, there is clearly a need to address this issue by planning ahead as far as possible.
What to do
For an LPA to be valid, you must fully understand the implications of the arrangement at the time of making it. This is why it is so vital to plan ahead even if this feels uncomfortable now.
A Health and Wealth LPA can be made to give your attorney the right to make personal welfare and medical treatment decisions on your behalf if, at some time in the future, you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
If you want to include your consent or refusal to any life-sustaining treatment, the attorney must be given specific permission to make these decisions when the LPA is drawn up.
It can only be used when it has been registered and when the donor has lost the capacity to handle their own affairs.
It is highly advisable to consult a solicitor to make sure this important legal document is properly drawn up, registered and in the donor’s best interests as this is deemed vital.
We have prepared three legal guides for provide you with more information:
For more information about setting up a Health and Welfare LPA – or a Property and Financial Affairs LPA – please contact Wards Solicitors specialist Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team.