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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.
There are two types of power of attorney: ordinary and lasting.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lack mental capacity at some time in the future, or no longer wish to make decisions for yourself.
See below for further information on what it meant by ‘mental capacity’.
There are two types of LPA:
Property and financial affairs - This can be used while someone still has mental capacity. An attorney (the person who makes decisions for you) can generally make decisions on things such as: buying and selling property; investing money; paying bills; or arranging repairs to property.
Personal welfare - This covers decisions about healthcare as well as personal welfare and can only be used once a person has lost mental capacity. An attorney can generally make decisions about things such as: where you should live; your medical care; who you should have contact with; and what kind of social activities you should take part in.
You can restrict or specify the types of decisions your attorney can make or you can allow them to make all decisions on your behalf.
If you’re setting up a property and financial affairs LPA, your attorney must keep accounts and make sure their money is kept separate from your money.
Lasting powers of attorney were introduced in October 2007, replacing the old system of enduring power of attorney (EPA). An EPA created before October 2007 remains valid.
Our following publications explain about ordinary powers of attorney and LPAs in more detail. Our factsheet, in particular, explains how to set up an LPA, when it will be valid, things to think about when choosing who to appoint as an attorney, what responsibilities the attorney has, what might happen if you don’t create an LPA; and what to do if there are any concerns in regard to how someone might be using an LPA.
FS22: Arranging for someone to make decisions about your finance or welfare (PDF 638KB)
IG21: Powers of attorney (PDF 796KB)
Having mental capacity means a person is able to make their own decisions. If you’re unable to make your own decisions at some point in the future – such as if you have advanced dementia or are unconscious – someone else will need to do so for you.
Some people may have capacity to make decisions about some things but not others, or their capacity to make decisions may change from day to day.
The Mental Capacity Act sets out the legal test to decide whether someone lacks the mental capacity to make a particular decision or express their views. This includes the inability of a person to:
It also establishes the following principles about mental capacity:
Further information on the Mental Capacity Act can be found on the GOV.UK website.
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