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What is Power of Attorney?

In the vast majority of cases it’s a family member who organises care on behalf of the care recipient (mum, dad, mother or father in law etc). It’s vital to plan ahead and act sooner rather than later to prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney, which will enable you to make decisions and act on their behalf.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Power of AttorneyPower of Attorney is a legal agreement to enable third parties such as close family members (who become attorneys) to act on your behalf if you develop difficulty making decisions.

There are two specific LPAs. One relates to your property and financial affairs; the other to your health and welfare.

You have to apply for each kind of LPA separately.

  • Welfare - this type of LPA covers healthcare and welfare, including medical treatment, and where you live. It grants the attorneys power to refuse or consent to treatment on your behalf.
  • Property and financial affairs - this type of LPA enables your attorneys to make decisions regarding how your money is managed and your property and other financial affairs are handled.

Who can have Lasting Power of Attorney?

The person applying to have Lasting Power of Attorney must be:

It's possible to have more than one attorney. You can choose how you would like them to act on your behalf and:

  • Appoint attorneys to act together, so all of them would be required to sign any document.
  • Appoint them to ‘act together and independently’, so only one would need to provide a signature.
  • Request that attorneys act together on some issues but independently on others.

Note that a spouse or partner who owns a home jointly with you cannot have attorney powers to transfer ownership of your share of the property.

How long does it take to process the application?

Once an application for LPA is with the Office of Public Guardian (OPG), it can take around 10 weeks to process, though this may vary depending on how many applications the OPG is dealing with.

What happens if you do not have Lasting Powers of Attorney?

If you have not prepared LPAs, you won't have a legally-appointed person to manage your affairs if you lose mental capacity. Instead, your affairs pass into the control of the Court of Protection. Somebody must then apply to the Court of Protection to obtain an order authorising them to manage your affairs. This is an expensive and time-consuming process. Also, you do not get to choose who manages your affairs!