What’s Power of Attorney and why would you need it?

The Power of Attorney is an important document that many of us may need to use in our lives, but not many people know anything about it. This article will tell you all you need to know about what it is, why it’s important and how to get one.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is an official document that allows you to hand over the authority to act for you, manage your affairs and make decisions on your finances and personal welfare.

Why would I need one?

There are many reasons why someone might need a Power of Attorney.

When someone falls ill, gets old or has an unexpected accident, that person’s family has no authority over their lives or property. Therefore, a Power of Attorney permits you to elect a person you can trust to make legal decisions for you.

Types of Power of Attorney

Ordinary Power of Attorney (OPA)

This is used when an individual is temporarily unable to make decisions or deal with legal issues themselves. This could be due to a number of reasons, such as injury or being out of the country.

This is only used when the individual is of full mental capacity.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

Replacing EPA in 2007, an LPA includes Health and Welfare LPA and Property and Financial Affairs LPA.

This is most commonly used when the donor (individual passing on the authority) is no longer of full mental capacity and is unable to make decisions for themselves.

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)

This can no longer be done. Before 2007, an EPA dealt with property and finances alone.

Authority

You might be wondering what type of authority someone who is elected as a Power of Attorney has.

Financial

A financial attorney is someone who is in charge of buying and selling property, opening and closing bank accounts, benefits, taxes and debts.

This type of POA comes into effect immediately. Unless the donor states otherwise, full mental capacity does not have to be lost for this power to be utilised.

Welfare 

A welfare attorney is in charge of virtually everything in the donor’s personal life. This includes their accommodation, the care they receive, the food they eat, clothes they wear and also the ability to consent to medical treatment. Even social contact is controlled by a welfare attorney.

However, unlike a Financial Affairs LPA, these powers do not come into effect until full mental capacity is lost.

How do I put a POA in place?

You must put an LPA in place when you are still able to make decisions for yourself, and of full mental capacity.

Getting an LPA can be a daunting experience, especially if you’re not sure where to start. For expert, legal advice on getting a Power of Attorney, Brodies LLP can provide you with everything you need to know.

Before making big decisions such as these, it is important to talk to those close to you. Make your family and friends aware of your plans and do some research to make sure that this would be the best choice for you.

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