Powers of attorney

It is becoming common practice for people to make a power of attorney to give authority to others to manage their affairs should they no longer be able to do so.

A power of attorney is a legal document which a person (the "donor") can make appointing one or more people (the "attorneys") to manage the affairs of the donor. Certain types of powers of attorney can be used even when the donor loses his or her mental capacity by accident, age related illness or otherwise.

Enduring power of attorney (EPA)
Until October 2007 one could make an enduring power of attorney (EPA). This document allowed attorneys to manage the donor's property and financial affairs. When registered with the Office of the Public Guardian the attorneys could manage the financial affairs of the donor even if he or she has lost mental capacity.

An EPA made before October 2007 can still be used.

Lasting power of attorney
The enduring power of attorney has now been replaced by the lasting power of attorney (LPA).

The law provides for two types of lasting power of attorney and you can have one or both. One type deals with your property and financial matters. The other type deals with your health and general welfare. Both types have to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used.

The Government has a useful website on lasting powers of attorney and this offers online access to the documents and with the Office of the Public Guardian.

It is important to get the right advice and to structure your lasting power of attorney to ensure it provides a sensible way of managing your affairs and avoids potential misuse.

What happens if I don’t make a lasting power of attorney?
Without a valid EPA or LPA, if a person loses mental capacity, it will be necessary for an application to be made to the Court of Protection which will then closely oversee the affairs of that person.