All of us know that we need to write a will to make sure that our loved ones are financially secure in the event of our death. But what happens if you become ill and are unable to look after yourself or you become mentally incapable? Would your affairs be left in limbo if you had an accident or got sick?

What is a power of attorney?  

Power of attorney allows you to nominate one or more trusted friends or relatives to act on your behalf. The person you appoint, the 'Attorney' act on your behalf.

 

What types of power of attorney are available?

England and Wales:

Lasting Power of Attorney Property and Financial Affairs (LPA PFA)

This form allows you to appoint  someone to make decisions about how your property and financial affairs are managed, and how to spend your money. An LPA PFA can be used when you lack capacity with regard to a certain decision. It can also be used when you don't lack capacity, although it may be restricted so as to apply only where you lack capacity. It has no legal standing until it's registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

 

Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare (LPA HW)

This form allows you to choose someone to make decisions about your welfare and healthcare. It allows someone to make decisions about where you live, how you are cared for and what healthcare you receive; this can include specific decisions about treatments or more general decisions. These decisions can only be taken on your behalf when the LPA has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and you lack the capacity to make the decisions yourself.

 

General Power of Attorney (GPA)

A GPA is used when you want someone to act on your behalf for only a set period of time (e.g. if you are going abroad) or for specific events, when your age and health make it unlikely that you could lose capacity during the duration of the GPA. It applies only to your property and affairs and it cannot be used to authorise someone to make decisions concerning your personal welfare. Unlike the LPA, it ceases to take effect if you become mentally incapable and it doesn't have to be registered.

 

Scotland:

Continuing Power of Attorney (CPA)

This allows you to appoint someone to take long-term control of your interests, particularly if you're elderly or in poor health. A CPA can be used by an Attorney both before and after you become mentally incapable but it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian while you're still mentally capable.

 

Welfare Power of Attorney (WPA)

This form allows you to appoint someone to make decisions about your welfare when you're incapable of doing so yourself. For the WPA to be valid, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian while you're still mentally capable.

 

General Power of Attorney (GPA)

A Scottish GPA is the same as the English version, mentioned above.

 

For a complete guide to making a power of attorney, click here

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