Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that can be used to give another person the authority to make health care decisions, financial transactions, or sign legal documents that you may not be able to do for yourself for some reason, giving you peace of mind that someone you trust is in charge of your affairs.
If you’re aged 18 or older and have the mental capacity to make financial, property and medical decisions for yourself, you can arrange for someone else to make these decisions for you in the future. The person making the power of attorney is called a donor and the person appointed to act on their behalf is called an attorney.
Powers of attorney may be short term – because you’re in hospital, abroad or you’re finding it harder to get out and about to the bank or post office, and you may need help with everyday tasks such as paying bills, or it may be longer term – say, if you’ve have been diagnosed with dementia and risk losing your mental capacity to make important decisions.
There are two types of power of attorney and you can set up both:
Ordinary power of attorney
This covers decisions about your financial affairs and is only valid while you have mental capacity to make your own decisions. It is suitable if you need cover for a temporary period (hospital stay or holiday) or if you find it hard to get out, or you want someone to act for you. You can limit the power you give your attorney so that they can only deal with certain assets, for example, your bank account but not your home.
Lasting power of attorney (LPA)
LPAs are used if there comes a time when you don’t have the mental capacity to make your own decisions and you need to ensure you’re covered in the future. There are two types of LPA:
- For financial decisions:
- buying or selling property
- paying the mortgage, investing money & paying bills
- collecting pension or benefits
- For health and care decisions:
- your medical care
- moving into a care home
- your daily routine – washing, dressing, eating
- life-saving treatment
Enduring power of attorney (EPAs) were replaced by LPAs in October 2007. However, if you made and signed an EPA before then, it should still be valid.
If you want to set up an ordinary power of attorney you should contact your local Citizen’s Advice or get advice from a solicitor. For help deciding if you should make a lasting power of attorney, contact the Office of the Public Guardian – firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0300 456 0300
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