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Ordinary power of attorney

An ordinary power of attorney is a legal document authorising one or more people to handle your financial affairs. It’s only valid while you still have mental capacity to make your own decisions. You may want to set one up if, for example:

  • you need someone to act for you for a temporary period, such as while you’re on holiday
  • you wish someone to act for you only while you're able to supervise their actions.

If you want someone to be able to act for you when you lose capacity to make your own decisions, you should consider a lasting power of attorney rather than an ordinary power of attorney.

A power of attorney gives the attorney (the person you choose to act for you) a legal document that proves their powers. You can buy an ordinary power of attorney document from a law stationer (some high street stationers also stock them) or arrange for a solicitor to prepare one.

It’s up to you to decide what the power of attorney covers. It can be a general power, without restrictions, or give limited powers only to do a specific task, for example to sell a house. In either case, you can still also act for yourself.

How long does an ordinary power of attorney last?

An ordinary power of attorney is only valid while you are capable of giving instructions. It will end if:

  • you lose mental capacity to make your own decisions about your finances and are no longer able personally to supervise or direct the attorney
  • you revoke the power
  • the power is limited to a specific task which has been completed
  • the attorney dies or loses mental capacity.

Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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