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Wills and power of attorney

Power of attorney is a legal document that gives one person the power to act for you if you are unable to. The person that you nominate can have broad or limited legal authority to make decisions about your property and finances. It’s a good idea to nominate someone that you trust to act as your attorney, as it ensures that your affairs will be properly looked after.

Types of power of attorney

Ordinary power of attorney

An ordinary power of attorney is most commonly used in situations where you need someone to act for you on a temporary basis, for example, while you are in hospital or away on holiday. It is only valid while you have the mental capacity to make your own decisions.

It is for the donor to decide which power(s) the attorney will have and whether this will be a general power (i.e. without restrictions), or limited to deal with a specific item or matter (e.g. to sell a house, deal with shares etc.). An ordinary power of attorney can only be used while the donor has mental capacity. It will end if the donor loses mental capacity or revokes it, the attorney dies or loses mental capacity, or when the specific task has been completed. An ordinary power of attorney does not need to be registered.

Lasting power of attorney

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is used to give authority to someone to act on your behalf when you no longer have mental capacity. It must, however, be signed whilst you still have mental capacity. There are two types of LPA: For property and financial affairs; and for health and welfare.

An LPA can only be used when the signed document has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. The document can be registered by the donor or the attorney. A registration fee is payable to the Office of the Public Guardian; it can take up to three months to be processed.

Do note: If a person has already lost mental capacity, it is not possible to create a power of attorney, whether ordinary or lasting. The only alternative is to make a formal application to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This is a time-consuming process that has on-going costs and long-term implications for the court-appointed deputy. To avoid this, it is prudent to have a signed and witnessed LPA that can be registered at a later date when the need arises.

LPA: Property and financial affairs

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Allows the donor to make decisions concerning property, bank accounts and your financial affairs when you are unable to do so

for example:

  • Managing a bank or building society account
  • Paying bills
  • Collecting benefits or a pension
  • Selling your home

Once you've filled this form out please email it to wills@sableinternational.com

LPA: Health and welfare

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This covers decisions about your healthcare and medical treatment, where you live as well as day-to-day decisions about your personal welfare

for example:

  • Your daily routine i.e. washing, dressing, eating
  • Medical care
  • Moving into a care home
  • Life-sustaining treatment

Once you've filled this form out please email it to wills@sableinternational.com

Enduring power of attorney

Enduring power of attorney (EPA) was replaced by LPA in October 2007. If you made and signed an EPA before 1 October 2007, it will still be valid and will cover decisions about your property and financial affairs. Like an LPA, it comes into effect if you lose your mental capacity or want someone to act on your behalf.

A costly assumption

Many people assume that if they are married or in a civil partnership, their spouse will automatically have the executive power to deal with their bank account and pensions, and make decisions about their healthcare, if they lose the ability to do so. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and without an LPA, your spouse won’t have the authority to act on your behalf. This is why it’s always best to ensure you have an official lasting power of attorney. 

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