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Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney Panel

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the 'donor') appoint one or more people (known as 'attorneys') to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.

This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and cannot make your own decisions (you 'lack mental capacity').

You must be 18 or older and have mental capacity (the ability to make your own decisions) when you make your LPA.

You do not need to live in the UK or be a British citizen.

There are 2 types of LPA:

  • health and welfare
  • property and financial affairs

You can choose to make one type or both.

How to make a lasting power of attorney

  1. Choose your attorney (you can have more than one).
  2. Fill out the forms to appoint them as an attorney.
  3. Register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (this can take up to 20 weeks).

You can cancel your LPA if you no longer need it or want to make a new one.

Health and welfare, lasting power of attorney

Use this LPA to give an attorney the power to make decisions about things like:

  • your daily routine, for example washing, dressing, and eating
  • medical care
  • moving into a care home
  • life-sustaining treatment

It can only be used when you're unable to make your own decisions.

Property and financial affairs, lasting power of attorney

Use this LPA to give an attorney the power to make decisions about money and property for you, for example:

  • managing a bank or building society account
  • paying bills
  • collecting benefits or a pension
  • selling your home

It can be used as soon as it's registered, with your permission.

Help decide if you should make a lasting power of attorney

Contact the Office of the Public Guardian if you need help.

Email or call 0300 456 0300

Who can help me?

Talk to a solicitor if you have problems answering any of the questions or if you want them to check what you have done. You can find a solicitor on the Law Society online directory.

Advice for attorneys: health and welfare

Having an LPA over someone's personal welfare may mean you need to make decisions about the healthcare and welfare of the person you're looking after.

If you have this power, you may have to decide:

  • where the person is to live
  • whether a care home or a nursing home is best for them, and which one
  • whether the person can continue to live at home with help from social services

You'll be able to decide if the donor should:

  • receive healthcare treatment
  • not receive a particular healthcare treatment
  • stop receiving a particular healthcare treatment

Some people who have a progressive illness sometimes make a decision about whether they'd want a particular treatment in the future.

They write down or tell others these wishes while they're mentally well, or have "mental capacity".

If the donor made a decision to refuse future medical treatment (known as an advance decision) in advance of losing their mental capacity, you cannot override their decision unless the LPA was made later and specifies that you have the power to do so.

What health and welfare power of attorney cannot do

A health and welfare LPA does not come into force until the donor has lost the capacity to make decisions for themselves.

There are some decisions you, as an attorney, cannot make for another person.

You cannot:

  • refuse any medicine prescribed by a responsible clinician if the person has been sectioned or is on leave from hospital
  • make decisions about where they should live if the donor is under a guardianship order
  • make a decision about life-sustaining treatment without checking whether the person has made an advance decision about this

Health and welfare power of attorney and restraint

If you have a health and welfare LPA, you may sometimes consider "restraining" (stopping or hindering) the person you're looking after from doing something you think will harm them or others.

Under the law, you're considered to be restraining someone if you:

  • physically force them to do, or stop doing, something
  • threaten to physically force them to do, or stop doing, something
  • prevent them going somewhere or doing something they want to
  • ask someone else to do any of the things listed above

You should not restrain the person unless:

  • you believe they do not have the mental ability or capacity to make a decision about that particular issue
  • you believe it's necessary to use restraint to prevent them harming themselves
  • it's a reasonable action to take because you believe they may suffer serious harm. For example, you could physically stop someone crossing the road if they were walking into traffic.


Advice for attorneys: property and financial affairs

If you have lasting power of attorney over property and financial affairs, you're allowed to make decisions on the donor's behalf.

These include:

  • writing cheques and paying bills
  • selling or renting property
  • carrying out their trade or business
  • honouring any contractual obligations
  • conducting legal proceedings on their behalf

You're also allowed to make gifts on behalf of the donor in certain circumstances.

For example:

  • on occasions such as birthdays or marriages to those related to or connected with the donor
  • to a charity the donor has supported in the past

Acting as an attorney means you should maintain a duty of care to the donor, not to benefit yourself. It's important to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Specifically, you must keep the donor's money and property separate from your own, and keep accurate accounts in all of your dealings as an attorney.



Continue reading 

Find out more about power of attorney on GOV.UK.


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