Power of Attorney: What You Should Know

Life can throw a lot of surprises at us. There will be times when things will come out of the blue and other times we will be prepared. We’d all like to think we are as prepared as possible when the time comes. That way we can focus on important things like caring for our loved ones. Unfortunately, one of the things that we all could face is someone close to us losing their mental capacity. This could be as a result of diseases like dementia, Parkinson’s or Alzheimers. We’ve probably all heard of these at one stage and it may have caused you a lot of worries. If one of these diseases was to affect your loved one, you might want to look after their affairs. 


One of the ways in which you could do this by obtaining a lasting power of attorney over their affairs. In this article, we’ll go through some of the things you need to know about this legal framework. While we might not know what the future has in store for us, the more prepared you are the better.


What is a power of attorney?


A 'power of attorney' is a legal document that grants someone you trust power over the decisions in your life. Every day in our lives we make decisions. These can be big or small decisions to do with a variety of things. It might be hard to consider but at some stage in our lives, we could lose the ability to make decisions. You might assume that if you are a family member you would be able to take control of these things. This could potentially not be the case.


A power of attorney can be used as a short or long term solution. For example, if you were in an accident the person who has a power of attorney could manage your affairs for you. This would also work in a situation where you are unable to make decisions. This could be as a result of diseases like Dementia, Parkinson’s or Alzheimers.  


The different types of power of attorney


As no two people are the same, there is no one size fits all solution for everyone. You should be aware that there are different types of power of attorney. What your individual needs are will determine which one you should consider.  


Ordinary power of attorney


This deals with situations where you will temporarily be unable to make decisions for yourself. It could be as a result of an accident, an extended hospital stay or if you have left the country for a period of time. This is valid while you still have mental capacity over your own affairs.  


Lasting power of attorney (LPA)


An LPA will cover decisions made over a longer period of time. This will come into effect when you can no longer make decisions for yourself. This could be as a result of a degenerative disease. Or it could be that you might not want to make decisions for yourself anymore. This will allow someone to manage things like your finances, bills and healthcare. As it deals with a lot of important issues you may want to set it up ahead of time.  


What should you know about setting up a lasting power of attorney?


In order to set up an LPA in the UK, you must be at least 18 years of age and a UK citizen. Once this has been established you can go about setting one up with the Office of the Public Guardian. Before getting in contact with them you will need to determine what type of decisions the LPA will concern. 


There are currently two types of LPA:


  • health and welfare
  • property and financial affairs


Before applying for an LPA it is important to consider which one you should choose. You should also note that you can choose to have both. 


Health and welfare lasting power of attorney


This LPA will cover decisions around a person’s healthcare. So this affects medical care, admission to a care home or life-sustaining treatment. This also relates to things in a person’s daily routine like washing, dressing and eating. A health and welfare LPA can only be put into action if a person is unable to make their own decisions.


Property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney


With this LPA a person will be given power over their decisions to do with money and property. This could range from managing bank accounts to selling your home. This is also where smaller things like dealing with household bills can be managed. Once a person has granted this LPA and it has been registered the affairs can be managed straight away.  


Making a lasting power of attorney


Here are the next steps in setting up and registering an LPA.


  1. First on the list of things to do is to decide who will be the person or persons that will look after your affairs. The person who is put in charge is known as the ‘attorney’. 
  2. From there you need to fill in the necessary forms to appoint that person as an attorney. 
  3. The final step is to register the LPA with the office of the public guardian. This costs £82 unless you get an exemption and can take up to 10 weeks. 


The LPA will not be valid until it has been registered with the office of public guardian. It’s important to bear in mind that the £82 pound cost is for both the Health and Welfare/Property and Financial Affairs LPAs. So if you are looking to get the two of them it could end up costing £164. 


How can you make changes to an LPA?


If you need to make any changes to your LPA you should get in contact with the office of Public Guardian. They can help you out with any specific questions or queries you might have in relation to an LPA.


Office of the Public Guardian

customerservices@publicguardian.gov.uk

Telephone: 0300 456 0300

Textphone: 0115 934 2778

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9.30 am to 5 pm

Wednesday, 10 am to 5 pm


Take Control of Your Affairs


Trying to predict the future is impossible. The only way we can prepare for the unexpected to get things in order ahead of time. One way that could help you to take control of your affairs is looking at getting a lasting power of attorney.  It might be a scary thought that you might not be able to make your own decisions one day. Being prepared could make things easier for your loved ones. There are plenty of things to be aware of when getting one. It’s important that you make sure that the decision to get one is right for you.