What is power of attorney?

Granting powers of attorney to a named individual can be a difficult decision to make, but when done correctly and for the right reasons it provides peace of mind during challenging times.

Powers of attorney can restore independence and peace of mind when placed in the hands of a trustworthy individual and for the right reasons. It is essentially a document which is designed to authorize a named individual to act on behalf of another person should they be unable to do so themselves.

It is a role that comes with a certain level of responsibility, whether the named individual is helping with everyday tasks such as paying bills or is making more complex decisions like managing investments or making decisions regarding health care. As such, powers of attorney documents are hugely variable.

Deciding to grant power of attorney

There are a number of reasons why a person may need to grant the power of attorney to another individual, but most commonly it is seen when there are issues surrounding a person’s mental capacity. Mental capacity refers to a person’s ability to make decisions and communicate – a person with mental capacity can understand which decision to make, why it needs to be made, and what the likely outcomes will be.

Mental health issues and conditions such as dementia are some of the most common conditions that can raise a need for power of attorney to be granted, but that’s not to say that people with these conditions lack mental capacity completely, or that their needs will stay the same. In fact, many people who have granted power of attorney to another are completely capable of handling their own day to day decisions and only need help with specific actions and decisions.

Power of attorney in the UK

While law surrounding power of attorney varies depending on where you are in the world, the basic premise remains the same: when a person needs help making decisions on some level, the correct approach will be advised and contracts will be produced stipulating the extent of the powers of attorney being granted. In the UK there are three types of power of attorney:

  • Ordinary power of attorney (OPA) – Valid while a person does have mental capacity, this covers decisions relating to your financial affairs. It is the ideal path for those needing to grant temporary power of attorney during a hospital stay or extended holiday for example, or if you simply prefer to have someone act on your behalf in these matters.
  • Lasting power of attorney (LPA) – This path is a little more extensive and comes into effect if and when mental capacity is lost, or a person decides they no longer want to make decisions for themselves. This kind of document covers decisions relating to financial affairs and health care and is frequently chosen by those wanting to ensure protections are in place for the future.
  • Enduring power of attorney (EPA) – This kind of contract was replaced by LPAs in late 2007, but those that were signed before the switch will still be valid in most cases. These are similar to LPAs in that they cover decisions around your property and financial affairs.

Contact Bowcock & Pursaill for more on granting powers of attorney

The decision to grant powers of attorney and have someone act on your behalf can be a difficult one to make. Bowcock & Pursaill specialise in helping find the right options for your unique circumstances – if we can assist you in applying to grant power of attorney then please feel free to contact us. Our specialists will discuss your options in an open, honest and sensitive manner.

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