What are Powers of attorney?

Guide to the situations in which a power of attorney is useful plus ability to create a power of attorney online

'Powers of attorney', sometimes abbreviated to POA, are legal documents which allow you to give authority to someone else – a family member or friend, for example - to manage your financial and/or personal affairs on your behalf. This person is referred to as your 'attorney' and you as the person giving authority are referred to as the 'donor'.

There are two types of Powers of attorney.

General (or Ordinary) Power of Attorney

A 'General (or Ordinary) power of attorney' is designed for situations where you require another person to temporarily look after your property and financial affairs, because you won't be physically available to do so yourself. For example, you could be moving abroad to work for a while or you may need a long stay in hospital for an operation. In these situations, your attorney can be given the authority to carry out tasks such as signing documents on your behalf and ensuring your bills are paid from your bank accounts.

When you no longer need someone to look after these affairs, you can stop the 'General power of attorney' by completing a document known as a 'revocation of a general power of attorney', which will remove the authority of the attorney to act on your behalf.

Start your General Power of Attorney now

Lasting power of attorney (LPA)

A 'Lasting power of attorney' is a legal document which allows you to authorise someone to act on your behalf and manage your affairs permanently. This could be because you have the onset of an illness such as dementia or that you are concerned about your ability to manage as you get older.

There are two types of 'Lasting powers of attorney'.

The 'Lasting power of attorney for property and financial affairs' covers all your financial and property matters and lets you give your attorney authorisation to perform tasks such as:

  • Open, close or operate bank accounts
  • Claim and receive pensions, benefits, allowances and rebates
  • Make all tax returns and adjusting and settling any claim for tax
  • Pay your household bills
  • Sell your property
  • Pay for private medical care and residential care costs

Start your Lasting Power of Attorney for Property & Financial Affairs now

On the other hand, a 'Lasting power of attorney for health and welfare' covers your health and care needs, including decisions such as:

  • Where you live
  • What sort of health care you receive
  • Social activities you undertake
  • Where to go on holiday
  • What sort of food to eat
  • Whether or not you receive life-sustaining treatment

Start your Lasting Power of Attorney – Health & Welfare now

The information on this page applies to England and Wales only.

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