What is Power of Attorney (POA)?


A power of attorney is a legal document allowing a person(s) to make decisions on your behalf, or to act on your behalf if you are no longer able to or want to make your own decisions.

Types of Power of Attorney...

1. Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

LPAs came into action in October 2007. A person must be over the age of 18 and have the mental capacity to make an LPA.
A person doesn't have to live in the UK or be a British citizen to make an application.

Personal welfare LPA

This type of LPA enables your attorney(s) to make decisions about your everyday routine, moving into a care home, medical care and life-sustaining treatment. A personal welfare LPA can only be used in the case that you are not able to make your own care decisions.

Decisions that a personal welfare LPA cannot make for another person:

  • Where they should live if the doner is under a guardianship order
  • Refuse medication prescribed by a responsible clinician if the person has been sectioned or is on leave from hospital
  • Make decisions about life-sustaining treatment without checking whether the person has made an advance decision about this

The law considers you to be restraining someone if you:

  • Physically force them to do or stop doing something
  • Prevent them from going somewhere or doing something that they would like to do
  • Threaten to physically force them to do or stop doing something
  • Ask someone else to do any of the above things

The only situations you should restrain a person you are attorney for:

  • You believe that it is necessary to prevent the person from causing harm to themselves
  • You don't believe that they have the mental capacity nor ability to make a decision about a particular issue
  • You believe that it is a responsible action to take as you believe that they could suffer serious harm

Property and financial affairs LPA

A property and financial affairs LPA allows your attorney to make decisions regarding your money and your property. This includes having the power to manage your bank accounts, pay your bills, sell your home, or collect your pension and your benefits. As soon as a property and financial affairs LPA has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, it can be used with immediate effect or held until it is required. A property and financial affairs attorney must keep the donor's money and property separately from their own and keep accurate accounts in all of their dealings as an attorney.

Decisions that a property and financial affairs attorney can make:

  • Carrying out their trade or business
  • Writing cheques and paying bills
  • Conducting legal proceedings on their behalf
  • Selling or renting property
  • Honouring any contractual obligations

Occasions a property and financial affairs attorney can make gifts on behalf of the doner:

  • Birthdays of those related or connected to the doner
  • Marriages of those related or connected to the doner
  • To a charity the doner has supported in the past

2. Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)

EPAs were made before LPAs came into force and it is no longer possible to make them. However, any EPAs made before October 2007 are still valid.

An EPA solely deals with property and financial affairs rather than personal welfare.

Newly registered Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) hit a record 800,400 in 2018, up from 273,600 in 2013"

Wilsons, Law Firm

3 step guide: how to get a Power of Attorney...

1. Apply

A personal welfare LPA and a property and financial affairs LPA can be set up simultaneously. You may even be able to use the same solicitor for both. Often, people may consider setting POA up whilst they are reviewing or revising their will. To apply for an LPA, a person must first decide who they would like to be their attorney(s) before filling in an application. It is common for someone to choose a family member to be their POA.

Ways to apply:

  • A POA can be applied for on the GOV.UK website online. (watch the video to the right to find out about Ann's experience using the Government Digital Service)
  • You can contact the Office of the Public Guardian via post or phone to request an application pack

Setting up a POA is a big thing and of course, you will want to make sure you answer all of the questions to your best ability. Should you wish to have your application checked, you can contact a lawyer who will be able to provide professional advice. Alternatively, you can contact either the Office of the Public Guardian or the Court of Protection to ask any questions you may have.

You may be able to receive legal aid for any personal welfare LPA issues, although you will not receive this for property and financial affairs LPAs. To find out which solicitors can provide the legal aid you can contact The Law Society or you can search for solicitors who specialise in POA on their online directory. It is important to be aware that you will only be eligible for legal aid if you pass a means test.

2. Register

An LPA needs to be registered before it comes into action which can be done on the GOV.UK website. Registering a POA will cost £82 unless you get either a reduction or an exemption. Please note that if you are applying for a personal welfare LPA and a financial affairs LPA together, the cost will be £164.

This can be done by:

  • The person making the application for the LPA, in other words the doner
  • The person who will have LPA, in other words the attorney

A 6 week notice period is provided for any objections to be raised.

As soon as an LPA has been registered, which can take up to 10 weeks, the original document will be given back to the applicant for their records. A notice will be provided to the donor to advise them that the LPA has been registered.

3.  Cancel (Optional!)

Even if an application has already been registered, an LPA can be cancelled at any time. However, the person must be mentally capable to decide to do so. Both your attorneys and the Office of the Public Guardian must be informed for them to remove the LPA from the register.

There are some cases where a LPA will automatically end such as if:

  • The attorney has a lack of mental capacity to make calculated decisions
  • The attorney or doner passes away
  • A marriage or civil partnership between the doner and the attorney is dissolved or annulled
  • The attorney or doner becomes bankrupt

It is also possible for the Court of Protection to cancel an LPA if they feel that the attorney is not acting in the doners best interests and gifts themselves or others excessively.

An EPA can be cancelled providing that it has not been registered and that you have the mental capacity to do so. To do so, you will need to sign a formal document called a Deed of Revocation. The only way that a registered EPA can be cancelled is if you have permission from the Court of Protection.

Why might a person set up Power of Attorney?...

Someone may decide to set up a LPA if:

  • They have been revising or writing their will
  • They need someone to act on their behalf temporarily if for instance they are in hospital and require help with tasks such as paying bills.
  • They have been diagnosed with a long-term condition such as dementia which could cause them to lose their mental capacity to make decisions in the future.
  • They are simply ageing and wish to make provisions for the future whilst they know that they still can

Did you apply for a Power of  Attorney in England or Wales between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017? If so, you are owed a refund of up to £54 due to a new Government scheme that was announced in February 2018. Find out how you can claim your refund here. Refunds must be claimed by February 2021.

Are you an attorney looking for care for someone? Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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