What is power of attorney? – Sponsored Post

A power of attorney is a legal document which nominates a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf. There are many different types of power of attorney and details of some of them are set out below.

Key phrases you may come across when dealing with a power of attorney request are:

• Donor eg The person giving the power.

• Attorneys eg The person or people appointed to make decisions for the Donors.

It is also important to note that some Powers of Attorney have to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before they can be used.

Types of power of attorney

• Specific Power of Attorney

These legal documents are usually used for a one-off purpose or situation. Often this is to help with the sale or purchase of a house. If the owner is going on holiday or is in hospital when the sale is going through they can sign a General Power of Attorney document appointing someone else to sign the conveyancing paperwork on their behalf.

This type of power is limited to a specific occasion. If the person giving the power dies or becomes mentally incapacitated then the power finishes.

So, for example, if an elderly person moves into a care home and wishes to sell their own house they may sign a Specific Power of Attorney giving their adult child the power to sign the legal papers on their behalf. This is particularly helpful if the elderly person is frail and can’t travel to see their solicitor. However, the elderly person must have full mental capacity when signing the Specific Power of Attorney. If, while the sale is going through, the elderly person’s condition deteriorates so that they lose their mental capacity then the Power of Attorney is no longer valid and the sale cannot proceed.

• General Power of Attorney

This is very similar to the Specific Power of Attorney except it allows the Attorney to make decisions about all the Donor’s money. It also stops as soon as the Donor loses capacity. So, this type of Power of Attorney only operates whilst the Donor can give ongoing permission to their Attorney.

For either of these Powers of Attorney there can be one or more Attorneys appointed, although it is very rare and rather impractical to appoint more than 3 or 4 people to act as Attorneys.

• Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)

These legal documents were available until October 2007 when they were replaced with Lasting Powers of Attorney.

An Enduring Power of Attorney only deals with the Donor’s finances (as opposed to health and welfare decisions) and if this was signed before October 2007 then it will still be valid today.

If the Donor has lost capacity then the EPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used by the Attorney to deal with the Donor’s money. But if the Donor still has mental capacity then the Attorney can use the EPA straight away to help the Donor manage their money.

For example, if an elderly person has made an EPA before October 2007 and now cannot get to the bank then they can ask their Attorney to take the EPA to the bank and arrange to take money out for them or pay their bills.

• Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

This form replaced EPAs in October 2007. There are 2 types of LPAs:

one for financial decisions, and

one for health and welfare decisions

Before the Attorney can use the LPA it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

When deciding what type of Power of Attorney is suitable it is advisable to check with a solicitor who specialises in this area of legal work.

This brief intro to power of attorney was written by Sian Thompson, Head of Wills and Probate, Simpson Millar LLP Solicitors.  To find out more visit www.simpsonmillar.co.uk or call 0808 129 3320.


January 11, 2013 · Editorial Team · Comments Closed
Posted in: News