Powers of Attorney

An attorney is an agent who is authorised to make decisions and do things on behalf of another person. An attorney is appointed by a legal document which may confer general authority or authority limited only to certain matters.

An ordinary power of attorney can be a very simple and inexpensive document. It can be set up immediately. It must be created by deed. Trustees who wish to delegate their functions must use a special form of trustees' power of attorney.

Ordinary and trustee powers of attorney automatically become invalid if the donor (the person who appoints the attorney) becomes mentally incapacitated.

Lasting powers of attorney

There may come a time when, for whatever reason, you become unable to cope. This might be because of injury sustained in an accident, or ill health. Some people like to plan ahead and appoint an attorney to look after them in these situations. The attorney can then make decisions on behalf of the person appointing them. A special power of attorney called a lasting power of attorney (LPA) must then be used.

Choices available

The powers granted by an LPA can only be used after the form has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

There are two different types of LPA:

  • a property and affairs LPA
  • a personal welfare LPA

Property and affairs LPA

This LPA enables you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions about your finances and property.

For example, your attorney can:

  • manage your bank account;
  • pay your bills;
  • sign your tax return;
  • buy or sell a property.

Personal welfare LPA

This LPA enables you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions about your personal health and welfare. For example, your attorney can make decisions about:

  • giving or refusing medical care and treatment;
  • your general day-to-day care;
  • where you should live.

Your attorney can only make decisions on your behalf under this power if you lack the capacity to do so yourself, for example if you were unconscious or because of the onset of a condition such as dementia.

Why have an LPA?

An LPA will give you peace of mind that decisions about your welfare and/or affairs will be handled:

  • in the way that you want and
  • by someone you have chosen

Whilst some initial costs are incurred in the making and registration of an LPA, these are likely to be much less than the costs involved with a court appointed deputy.

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