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Power of attorney

Introduction

What is it?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document whereby one person (the 'donor') gives another person or persons (the 'attorney') the power to act on their behalf with regard to a specified decision, or for all legal or some or all financial matters.

There are a number of reasons why you might need someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf.  It could just be temporary, for example, if you are in hospital and need help with everyday things such as making sure that bills are paid. Or you may need to make more long-term plans if, for example, you have been diagnosed with dementia.

What information can I find here?

These pages look at what power of attorney means, the benefits and how you can arrange a power of attorney. You will also find contact details for other relevant organisations.

Common Types

Ordinary POA

An ordinary POA can be used if you want to give someone the authority to make decisions while you still have mental capacity. This can be for a single decision or for ongoing decisions in regards to your assets and money. The donor is required to monitor the actions of the attorney so there is no requirement for an ordinary POA to be registered with the Court of Protection. Other financial organisations may record them for information.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

This is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf, if either

  • you're unable to at some point in the future
  • if you no longer wish to make decisions for yourself and have added this to the LPA specifically.

There are two types of LPA:

Property and Financial Affairs LPA

Once the LPA has been registered with the Court of Protection your attorney can use this if you lose capacity to make decisions about your property and financial affairs. If the attorney wants to use the LPA whilst you still have mental capacity, they can only do this if you have said that they can.

Personal Welfare LPA

Your attorney can only use this when you no longer have mental capacity. It covers health care as well as personal welfare, i.e. where you live.

Arranging a LPA

Eligibility

A LPA will only be valid if you have the mental capacity to set it up and haven't been under any pressure to create it. It must be your decision and you must trust your attorney.

The LPA forms and information pack can be obtained from the Office of the Public Guardian or you can download the forms or fill them in online (www.gov.uk/lasting-power-of-attorney.)

The LPA must be signed by a certificate provider who confirms that you understand it and haven’t been put under any pressure to sign it. They must be someone you know well or a professional person such as a doctor, social worker or solicitor. The LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.

Benefits

  • Establishing a power of attorney is relatively inexpensive.
  • Your loved one can decide who should make decisions on his or her behalf.
  • Your loved one controls whether the agent has general or specific power.
  • The document can require the agent to become bonded or to give an account of his or her transactions.

Unsure about the process?

he LPA is a powerful legal document. You may wish to get a solicitor to help if you're unsure about any aspect of the process or if there are complex assets involved, such as businesses or overseas property.

Consider using a solicitor with specialist expertise. Use the Law Society's find a solicitor tool or, if appropriate, try solicitors for the elderly, a network of 1,000 solicitors, specialising in issues affecting older people. Ask if it's a fixed fee.

If you're on a low income, have little savings and are either over 70, disabled, have a disabled child or are a single parent, there is a chance you may be able to get help through the Civil Legal Advice. This scheme helps those who wouldn't normally be able to afford legal advice.

Last reviewed: 11/07/2018

Useful links

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