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I'm confused! What are the different types of power of attorney?

NOV 20th, 2020

I'm confused! What are the different types of power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint people (‘attorneys’) that you trust to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf when you’re unable to do so yourself.

Lasting powers of attorney (LPA) are divided into two main types: property and financial affairs and health and welfare.

A property and financial affairs LPA allows your attorney/s to pay your bills and manage your finances. This can be utilised from the moment it is registered – at this point, the attorney/s is only running errands on your behalf.

The health and welfare LPA is used if you lose mental capacity. The attorney you appoint will be in charge of making decisions on your behalf around where you live and the type of care you receive. This lasting power of attorney is about looking after you as a person, whereas the previous is focused on managing your finances.

If you don’t have a property and financial affairs LPA in place before you become incapable of making decisions yourself, the court will decide who will look after your assets and finances – it is most likely to be handed over to the local authority in this case. Neither you or anyone else you trust will have a say in this.

With regards to health and welfare LPA, if you haven’t made it and get diagnosed with dementia or another cognitive impairment, social services and the NHS will make decisions for you. Even if you have a family member who is looking after you, if you haven’t appointed them as your attorney, they have no power to overturn decisions made on your behalf. This is a really powerful document, protecting you when you’re most vulnerable.

Your attorney/s must be over 18, and a trustworthy individual – they should not have a history of alcohol or drug abuse and, specifically for property and financial affairs LPA, they can’t have experienced bankruptcy.

People usually appoint their spouse or children, but this can be anyone you trust to make the right decisions for you.

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