Tick a box to hand over power of life and death (no witness required): Ministers plan simpler power of attorney forms

  • Ministers set to remove need of witness to 'lasting power of attorney'
  • New plan would also cancel special page when handing over power of life

By Steve Doughty

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People should be able to hand over the power of life and death with a simple tick box form, ministers said yesterday.

The form would make it much quicker and simpler for someone to draw up a ‘lasting power of attorney’ which gives someone else the right to decide whether they live or die if they become too ill to take decisions for themselves.

Powers of attorney were once commonly used to hand friends or family members control of the finances of someone who became unable to act for themselves.

Ministers plan to remove the legal necessity for a special page and a witness to the decision, when someone hand over life-and-death powers

Signing off: Ministers plan to remove the legal necessity for a special page and a witness to the decision, when someone hands over life-and-death powers

But Labour’s 2005 Mental Capacity Act – which gave legal status to ‘living wills’ – allowed people to also choose an  attorney with the right to end their life.

Now ministers plan to remove the legal necessity for someone to sign a special page of their form, and have a witness to the decision, when they choose to hand over life-and-death powers.

 

Anti-euthanasia groups accused the Coalition of stripping away the safeguards against murder and involuntary euthanasia.

Elspeth Chowdharay-Best, of Alert, said: ‘This is horrendous. People will tick the box without realising what they have done. Then when they die their families will be told it is what they wanted.’

The right for someone’s attorney to acquiesce in their death – usually by the removal of tubes providing liquid and nutrition – has always demanded a series of signatures and witnesses to guarantee no-one is killed against their wishes.

Pulling the plug: Critics of the new plan says it will make it 'too easy' to sign over the decision making to their attorneys (stock image)

Pulling the plug: Critics of the new plan says it will make it 'too easy' to sign over the decision making to their attorneys (stock image)

There will no longer be separate forms to fill in for those wanting to set up either a financial power of attorney or the health variation. Instead someone handing over the life or death rights will only have to tick a box in one small section of a 15-page form.

Justice minister Lord McNally said: ‘Making a lasting power of attorney is as important as making a will – it can save people unnecessary trauma and expense and makes sure their own wishes are followed whatever happens. It is crucial for people of all ages.’

Mr McNally’s proposals to simplify the system were published in a consultation paper yesterday. It acknowledged some might fill in the new form ‘without having first carefully considered the responsibilities involved’.

The Ministry of Justice paper said the signature and witness had been considered ‘an important necessary safeguard’.

But, it said, experience had shown there was ‘no need’ for this. Any changes will need approval from Parliament.

Another element will need full-scale legislation. This will allow people to make lasting powers of attorney, including life and death powers, online.

No signatures will be needed and people will get ID numbers to make sure no-one can register a false form. Lasting power of attorney forms will, until they are posted on the internet, still have to be signed, witnessed, and certified before they are registered.

The controversy over the legal ways in which doctors can allow  patients to die follows rows over the role of living wills under the Mental Capacity Act.

Many hospitals now offer patients tick box forms which are legally living wills, and which mean patients who agree will be denied liquids and food if they become incapacitated.

Mrs Chowdharay-Best said: ‘This is calculated to take people off the face of the Earth who would have lived on quite happily. It is involuntary euthanasia.’

The comments below have not been moderated.

This country is becoming increasingly evil and no one is speaking up.

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That'll make it easier for them to be ripped off.

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what ever next, this government will do anything to rid people of there powers, next they will be introducing a logun run style living, once your a certain age your for the chop, but of course the government will be exempted

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Ahh the culture of death is a life ane well in good old blighty. Why is Alert described as an anti organisation instead of something positive life pro life. But they of course our society is anti life from conception to teh grave as has ben seen by teh DPP saying its ok to abort female unborn children.

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Don't like this one bit, no witness!!!!!

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Ridiculous and callous. So many possible implications for manipulation.

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Who wants to live forever?

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Tick a box to hand over power of life and death like as in the EU referendum.

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Why don't ministers plan simple rules which just allow the elderly to do what they like with their own money instead of the government swiping every penny they can in the way of taxes and expenses or anything else they can think of which robs the aged of their "rainy day" savings.

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I,ve done my own, twice, and are quite complicated;and costly;;;£160 each,x 2, care/finance for each spouse;So it cost me £640, Solicitor would double /treble that. ;Needs simplifying....why witness, they don,t read it, and are most likely move or dead when required.

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