What is a power of attorney?

What is a power of attorney?

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Powers of attorney

Powers of attorney (PoAs) are documents that you use to give another person (called your 'attorney') the right to manage affairs on your behalf. The person creating the power of attorney is known as the 'donor'.

In order to create a valid PoA, the donor must have the capacity to appoint an attorney. Capacity, in this context, has a special legal meaning that is related to the ability to understand the implications or consequences of your actions as opposed to simply being able to do something. If the donor does not have the mental capacity to create a PoA, it will be ruled invalid.

Who can be an attorney?

Anyone who has the mental capacity to be an attorney can act as an attorney. This can include your partner, a relative or friend. However, in an enduring power of attorney (EPA), your attorney must be over the age of 18 and, may not be an undischarged or interim bankrupt.

If you wish to cancel a power of attorney

You can cancel a PoA while you are still of sound mind. However, if an EPA has been registered with the Office of Care and Protection (OCP), and you then lose the capacity to manage your own affairs, only the OCP has the power to cancel the document.

Different types of powers of attorney

There are different types of PoA, depending on your circumstances and location. If you are looking to create a PoA in Northern Ireland, you can find out more by reading the article Choosing a power of attorney.