We answer your most commonly-asked questions about Powers of Attorney.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows the named person or people to deal with the affairs (usually financial) of the person or ‘donor’ who has chosen them as their attorney.
The most common type of Power of Attorney is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) which is drawn up while the donor still has mental capacity, to give permission for the person or people to deal with their affairs after they lose mental capacity. There are two types of LPA:
An Ordinary Power of Attorney can be set up if the donor needs someone to act for them for a temporary period — for example, while they are on holiday or in hospital — or if they want to supervise their actions.
In Scotland, Powers of Attorney are subject to different laws. Visit the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) website for more information.
Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) were discontinued in October 2007, but EPAs that were set up prior to this date are still valid.
If the donor wishes to set up an LPA, it needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. You can find information about the Office of the Public Guardian on GOV.UK website. This must be set up while the donor still has the mental capacity to make decisions.
If you have been granted Ordinary Powers of Attorney — for example, because the person still has mental capacity but is unable to get to their bank or post office — you do not need to be registered, but the ‘donor’ or their solicitor will need to fill out a form making it clear what your powers are.
To set up an LPA, you can request a form via the GOV.UK website, get one from the Office of the Public Guardian or go to a solicitor. For Ordinary Powers of Attorney, you can buy a form from a legal stationer, or you could make an appointment with a solicitor or local advice agency to help set one up.
There is currently a fee of £130 for registering each LPA. If the person wishes to register you as both their attorney for property and financial affairs, and for health and welfare, they must pay £260. Solicitors fees vary so you may want to contact a few to compare quotes.
If the donor receives benefits such as income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, pension guarantee credit, housing benefit or local housing allowance, they may be exempt from the registration fee.
If you as the attorney pay to register the legal documents, you can reclaim the costs from the donor. You can also claim any expenses that you incur as a result of your role as attorney, such as postage and travel costs.
Not necessarily. You can fill in the form yourself. If you want to use a solicitor, you can find a local one by visiting the Law Society website.
The authority you have will be detailed in the legal document that is drawn up.
If you are the attorney for property and financial affairs, you can generally make decisions such as selling property, paying the mortgage, investing money, paying bills and arranging property repairs. If you are the attorney for personal welfare, you can usually make decisions such as what medical treatment the donor should have and where they should live.
As an attorney you must act in a highly ethical manner and only in the best interests of the donor. You can only make a decision for the donor if you have ‘reasonable belief’ that they lack mental capacity to make that particular decision. The required standards are set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and its related Code of Practice.
For more information, see our free guide Powers of Attorney
Download our factsheet Arranging for someone to make decisions about your finance or welfare
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