A Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows you to give a trusted person (e.g. family) the power to manage your affairs. This trusted person becomes the ‘attorney’. This is usually applicable where you are unable to manage your affairs alone, perhaps as a result of illness or age, or an accident that means you require assistance. Without a Power of Attorney under such circumstances your family would not have any authority to be able to act on your behalf.
It may be the case that you don’t need anyone to act on your behalf in the immediate future, but by signing a Power of Attorney you are protected should anything happen to you that may require your loved ones intervention.
Different types of Power of Attorney
There are different types of Power of Attorney depending on your circumstances and what you wish your family to have authority of, and whether you require it to be immediately effective.
Ordinary Power of Attorney
This form of Power of Attorney is typically used for temporary convenience, but it is only valid if you have full mental capacity to make decisions yourself. It allows the attorney of the document to make financial decisions on your behalf.
Typical situations they may be set up under include:
The need for someone to act on your behalf temporarily, e.g. while you’re in hospital or on holiday
Allowing someone to act for you, but while your supervise their actions
To give someone access to your account if you’re unable to get out and about e.g. to the Post Office
You can limit how much power is given to the attorney, only allowing them access to certain assets such as your bank account, rather than your home etc.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
A Lasting Power of Attorney is the most typical form of Power of Attorney, mainly due to the nature of it, allowing people to make provisions for the future. This is the type that most people wish to put in place.
A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to put an attorney in place for if you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions in the future, although it is also used where you no longer wish to make decisions for yourself. There are two different types of Lasting Power of Attorney: one for health/care decisions and one for financial decisions.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions:
This can be used either whilst you still have the mental capacity to make decisions, or you can choose for it to come into place when that is no longer the case. It covers things such as:
Paying bills/ the mortgage
Arranging repairs to/ buying/selling property
Investment of money
You can either allow the attorney to make all decisions on your behalf or restrict them to certain types of decision.
If you are worried about where your money is being spent, or you just wish to keep track of it, luckily there is an extra layer of protection as the attorney must keep their accounts separate to yours, while also keeping a record of all transactions and decisions made on your behalf, and these can be sent to a family member or solicitor if you lose the capacity to check yourself.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Care Decisions
This type of LPA can only be used once you have lost the mental capacity to make your own decisions, as it covers health and care decisions such as:
What care you should receive (including decisions on life saving treatment)
Where you should live
Who you can be in contact with
Social activities you may wish to take part in
It’s easy to assume that if you’re married or in a civil partnership then they automatically have the power to make these decisions for you. However, without an LPA that is not the case.
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
As of October 2007, you can no longer create an EPA. However, EPAs created before this point may still be valid.
EPAs only cover matters that are financial or related to property, not your health or care. As a result, if you do have a valid EPA in place it’s also worth setting up a Health and Care LPA so that you cover all bases.
If you wish to create a Power of Attorney, speak to our specialist solicitors today. They will guide you through the process and make it as easy as possible for you. You can call us on0800 567 7866 or submit an enquiry.
Note: First4lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances and not rely on First4lawyers’ online information alone. *All details and pricing correct at time of last update. First4Lawyers and their partners are not tax advisors and we recommend you seek appropriate independent financial advice before making any decisions that relate to tax and property.