What does it mean to give someone Power of Attorney?

23 February 2020
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person or organisation to handle your personal affairs and make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so due to an accident or illness.
Image power of attorney blog 240220
Enduring Power of Attorney

Enduring Power of Attorneys (EPA) cover property and financial affairs, but not health and welfare. Whilst it is not possible to make an EPA today, one made before October 2007 remains valid.

Lasting Power of Attorney

However, it is possible to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). LPAs came into force in 2007 and can give you peace of mind that someone with your best interests at heart is in charge of your care and finances whilst you’re still alive.

In the UK there are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:

  • Health & Welfare - The power to make decisions about your daily routine, medical care, moving into a care home or life-sustaining treatment.
  • Property & Finance - The power to manage your bank account, pay bills, collect a benefit/pension or selling your home.

When should you get a Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you’re over the age of 18 and have the mental ability to make financial and medical decisions for yourself, then you can assign an Attorney to make decisions on your behalf. 

With a Property and Finances LPA your Attorney can assist you as soon as the LPA has been registered, whilst with a Health and Welfare LPA your Attorney will only be able to make decisions on your behalf if you were to lose your mental capacity. 

Many people consider making LPA’s whilst writing, reviewing or revising their will. However, it is important to note that you can only make an LPA when you have mental capacity and realistically you never know what could be waiting around the corner. If you lose mental capacity it would be too late to make an LPA, and therefore it is important to be organised and plan ahead.

What happens if I don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you lose mental capacity, for example, due to a serious accident, stroke or dementia, without making an LPA, your loved one will have to apply through a court to become your ‘deputy’ which can be a long and expensive process at an already emotional time.

 Cancelling Power of Attorney

You can cancel an LPA at any time provided you have the mental capacity to make that decision. However, there are a number of situations whereby an LPA automatically comes to an end, for example:

  • If the Attorney or Donor dies
  • If the Attorney or Donor becomes bankrupt
  • If a marriage between a Donor and Attorney comes to an end
  • If the Attorney's own mental capacity has diminished and they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.

At John Fowlers we understand that making plans for what would happen if our faculties fail us can be uncomfortable, so our experienced Solicitors make every effort to ensure the process is as clear, quick and easy as possible. 

If you’ve been thinking about updating your Will or LPA, please get in touch today