What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a document in which one person (the donor) appoints another person (the attorney) to act for him or her. 

There are two types of document: an ordinary power of attorney and a lasting power of attorney. An ordinary power of attorney is the document used when a donor appoints an attorney(s) to take care of property and financial matters only. Usually, an ordinary power of attorney finishes when the donor has lost the ability to control his or her assets. 

The lasting power of attorney (LPA) documents were initiated under the 2005 Mental Capacity Act and first came into use on 1st October, 2007. LPAs have replaced enduring powers of attorney (EPAs). They were introduced to cover the time when the donor has lost capacity to attend to his or her own financial, personal or business affairs. They are called LPA for Property and Affairs and LPA for Personal Welfare. 

The LPA for Property and Affairs gives permission for the attorney to manage all affairs like property, including, if necessary, selling the donor’s home, managing financial assets such as bank accounts and investments and keeping a business running if the donor has one. The attorney can also make decisions, whether the donor has lost capacity or not. This goes into effect once the LPA has been lodged with the Office of the Public Guardian. 

The LPA for Personal Welfare permits the attorney to act on the donor’s behalf when it comes to making decisions about his or her health and welfare. This could include giving consent for certain medical treatment and making decisions about where the donor should live, including whether care at home is sufficient. The attorney for this LPA can only act on the donor’s behalf when the donor has got to the point that he or she is lacking the capacity to make his or her own decisions. It takes effect once the LPA has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

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