Don’t leave your future to chance. A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document by which you can give someone you trust (the Attorney) authority to make certain decisions on your behalf if/when you’re not able to make them yourself.
Our team of specialist solicitors can help you make and/or register all types of Power of Attorney, including:
- Ordinary Powers of Attorney
- Lasting Powers of Attorney
- Enduring Powers of Attorney (registration only)
Although it’s hard to think about, every person may be faced with the possibility of losing the ability to make their own decisions in the future, whether that be due to an illness such as dementia, a stroke, or plain old age. If you need extra support, a POA gives the people you trust most the authority to help, from managing your bank accounts to making decisions about your care.
Powers of Attorney can also come in handy when you have mental capacity but are unable to make large, one-off financial decisions such as selling property; for example, because you are going overseas or into hospital for a period of time.
We can provide practical advice about whether a Power of Attorney (and what type) may be right for you. We can also draft the POA on your behalf, ensuring that your wishes are accurately set out and the limits of your Attorney’s powers are clearly defined.
We can also provide advice to Attorneys about their role and responsibilities under the POA and assist with Court of Protection applications where a decision needs making that falls outside the scope of your power.
How can our Power of Attorney solicitors help?
Ordinary Powers of Attorney
Also known as a General Power of Attorney, an Ordinary Power of Attorney is often used by people who are absent for one reason or another when a financial or property related transaction is being undertaken. For example, if you are overseas and selling property in the UK, you may appoint an Attorney who can be physically present to act on your behalf. These types of POA are generally used for individual transactions.
Our solicitors can provide tailored advice and draft your document on your behalf. We can also provide advice to Attorneys acting under Ordinary Powers of Attorney and help them fulfil their responsibilities.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) were introduced in 2007 and replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs). Whilst there are slight differences, the principle is the same: they allow you to appoint someone to act on your behalf in a range of matters. The difference is that they can be put into place in case you become incapable of making decisions yourself, for example through illness or injury.
Our solicitors can talk you through your options and draw up a practical LPA that reflects your wishes and needs. Creating an LPA can save your family a lot of heartache should you ever lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions. It will leave them clear instructions about your wishes and who you want to act for you as well as saving your family from having to make an application to the Court of Protection (which is complicated and can take a long time).
There are two types of LPA:
- A Property and Financial Affairs LPA. This allows your Attorney to deal with your property and finances in the event you become mentally incapacitated or simply require some assistance with matters
- A Health and Welfare LPA. This permits your Attorney to make health and welfare related decisions on your behalf in the event that you became incapable of making your own decisions. If you wish, this can extend to giving or refusing consent to life sustaining treatment.
Choosing an Attorney
As with any POA, you should choose your Attorney(s) carefully, ensuring they have the skills and competence to manage your affairs and that you can trust them. If you appoint more than one, they can act together or independently depending on your requirements, and you can appoint them to act together for some issues and separately for others. You may also choose a successor in case the first named Attorney cannot act for you for any reason.
An Attorney is only able to act when you and they have signed the Lasting Power of Attorney. The LPA will also need the signature of a ‘Certificate Provider’. Their role, amongst others, is to confirm you understand the scope of the LPA. The LPA must then be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
Enduring Powers of Attorney were the predecessors to LPAs. Any made before 1st October 2007 can only be used in respect of property and affairs. If you wish to give authority over health or welfare, you will need to make a Health and Welfare LPA.
We can provide advice about registering an existing Enduring Power of Attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian if it is needed to make decisions on someone’s behalf about financial affairs.
What happens if you have not made an LPA or EPA?
If someone lacks the capacity to make decisions it may be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection appointing a Deputy to make decisions on their behalf. Whilst the work of the Court of Protection must be applauded, the application process is much less straightforward than using an LPA.
For this reason, we always recommend making an LPA while you are able to. If you are making a Will, it is a good time to talk to us about making an LPA. That way you can rest assured that all your affairs will be in order and that everything will be much easier for your loved ones.
It is worth noting that a Lasting Power of Attorney can only be made whilst a person possesses full mental capacity, so we always say: don’t put it off ‘until the time comes’ because it will be too late.
We’re also on hand to advise if you’re feeling unsure about the suitability of an appointed Attorney, or if a dispute or objection relating to something covered by an LPA has arisen.