A guide to navigating a Power of Attorney (POA)
As long as you're aged 18 or over, you can set a POA up at any time, providing you're able to weigh up information and make decisions yourself.
A power of attorney can help you with: temporary situations – for example, you're in hospital or abroad and need help with everyday tasks such as paying bills.
A power of attorney is like a special paper that gives someone the right to make choices for you or act on your behalf if you can't do it anymore or don't want to.
There are different reasons why you might need someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf:
Having mental capacity means being able to make your own decisions. Someone may not have mental capacity for many reasons, including:
It's for decisions about your money, and it's valid while you can still think clearly. You might use it if you need help for a little while, like when you're in the hospital or on holiday, if you find it tough to go out or want someone to act for you.
You can set up a GPA for a certain time, or until you finish a particular job, like selling a house. It will stop automatically if you can't think properly anymore, which means you can't make choices on your own.
A GPA is meant to give you short-term help with money or property. It could be useful when you're not feeling well, need help with a specific task, or if you'd rather have someone else make decisions for you.
An LPA is a legal document that lets someone make decisions for you, even if you can't or don't want to make them yourself.
There are 2 types of LPA:
You have to create an LPA while you can still think clearly and make decisions on your own.
An LPA is meant to support you for a long time. You can choose when it starts – it can be as soon as it's registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, or only if you can't think clearly in the future.
An LPA is helpful if you're thinking about planning for the future. It gives you control over your finances, so you know how things will be managed if you can't make decisions later on. It's especially useful if you worry about getting sick as you get older.
When you give someone a power of attorney, you get to decide what they can and can't do for you.
The person you choose as your attorney must always make decisions that are good for you. They can only act in ways that you've told them to in the document.
To make sure your money is safe, the attorney should keep a record of any money they spend, and you can check these records anytime you want.
If you want your partner or spouse to help you with your money, you need a power of attorney or Third Party Mandate.
In a joint account, both you and the other person legally share all the money (and any debts) in the account.
But with a power of attorney, you stay in control of all your money. The attorney can only access your accounts the way you've told them to.
Once the document is registered with us, some of the things attorneys could do include:
Paying bills and making transfers
Managing regular payments (like standing orders)
Selling property or managing mortgage payments
In most cases, when you make a power of attorney, you get to decide how long it will be in effect.
As long as you can still think clearly and make choices, you can choose to end a power of attorney whenever you want.
A GPA will stop if you lose mental capacity. It's usually meant to give you short-term help. So, if you get sick and can't make your own decisions, the power of attorney will end.
An LPA works differently. It's meant to support you for a long time if and when you need it.
You can start an LPA whenever you like, and it will last throughout your life, even if you lose mental capacity later on.
You can end an LPA by using a special document called a deed of revocation, as long as you can still make decisions.
Your power of attorney will automatically end:
The cost of setting up a power of attorney can vary depending on the type you choose and if you get help from a solicitor.
You don't have to use a solicitor, but since these are legal papers, it might be a good idea to get advice from a legal expert.
If you're in England and Wales, you must register a lasting power of attorney (LPA) with the Office of the Public Guardian to make it official. Your attorney can only start helping you once it's registered.
(You don't need to register a general power of attorney (GPA) anywhere in the UK. You can start using it as soon as you've signed the document.)
The fee to register each document is usually around £80 to £150, but this can vary.
If you have a low income or receive certain benefits, you may not have to pay the full fee or any fee at all. Talk to the registration agency for more information.
In England and Wales, register an LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian.
In Scotland, register a continuing power of attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland).
In Northern Ireland, register an enduring power of attorney (EPA) with the Office of Care and Protection.
In England and Wales, you can set up a power of attorney in three ways: online, by mail, or with the help of a solicitor.
You can pick anyone to act on your behalf, as long as they are 18 or older and can make decisions for themselves and for you.
You can have as many attorneys as you want, but most people choose between 1 and 4. You might want different attorneys for different tasks, like one for health decisions and another for money matters.
Each attorney should always make choices that are good for you. So, it's essential to choose someone you trust and who knows you well.
If you prefer, you can choose a professional attorney, like a solicitor or an accountant. This could be useful if you have complex affairs or don't want to involve friends or family.
If you have more than one attorney, you need to decide how they make decisions together.
You can set it up so that all attorneys must decide together, which is called 'acting Jointly.' Or you can let each attorney make choices on their own, known as 'acting Jointly and Severally.'
You may decide that attorneys can act alone for some things and together for others. For instance, they can make decisions about property together but manage your current accounts without needing each other's approval.
Do I need a solicitor to set up a power of attorney?
You don't have to use a solicitor. After choosing your attorney(s), you can create your document or fill out a setup form. You can access the form from a registration agency, like the Office of the Public Guardian.
Remember that all types of power of attorney are legal documents, and some can last a long time. So, getting advice from a solicitor might be a good idea.
You can create a GPA on your own or with the help of a solicitor. The document has specific wording and must be signed by you.
First, you need to get a power of attorney form from the registration agency or a solicitor. For example, in England and Wales, you can contact the Office of the Public Guardian for a setup form.
Both you and your attorney(s) must sign and complete the form. In most cases, you can do this online or using a paper form.
You also need a 'certificate provider' to sign the form. This is someone independent, like a GP or another professional, who confirms that you have mental capacity and are not being forced into the arrangement.
Then, you return the completed forms to the registration agency. You can do this online, by mail, or through your solicitor.
Depending on where you live, it might take a few weeks for the agency to register the document. So, keep this in mind if you need your attorney's support soon.
Register a Power of Attorney with us
If you have a power of attorney already, you’ll need to register it with us before you can access someone’s MBS accounts.
Register a Power of Attorney