Power of Attorney
It's important you think about who you would want to make decisions on your behalf, if you can no longer do this yourself.
A power of attorney is a legal document that lets you give one or more person the power to make decisions for you.
If you're aged 18 or over, you can arrange power of attorney at any time, providing you have 'mental capacity' - this is the ability to understand the decisions you need to make and the likely outcome of your decisions.
Types of attorney
Ordinary power of attorney - allows you to choose one or more people to deal with your finances. The arrangement can be ended at any time and the document is automatically invalid if you lose mental capacity.
This type of attorney may be considered if, for example:
- you're on holiday or in hospital and need someone to act for you for a temporary period only
- you have an illness or disability which means you are physically unable to manage your finances
- you would like someone else to manage a specific financial matter, such as selling your property.
To arrange an ordinary power of attorney, you can buy a document or use a solicitor.
Lasting power of attorney (LPA) - allows you (as the 'donor') to choose one or more people (known as 'attorneys') to help you make decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do so in the future, or if you no longer want to make decisions for yourself.
There are two types of LPAs:
- property and financial affairs - this can cover buying and selling a property, paying bills, buying and selling property or investing money.
- health and welfare - this can cover where you should live, your medical care, and who you should have contact with.
You can choose one type or both and they can be cancelled at any time, as long as this happens whilst you have mental capacity.
You can apply for both types of LPA by completing the relevant forms on the gov.uk website. You can also print out paper copies of the forms or request the forms in accessible formats, for example, large print. If you prefer, you can ask a solicitor to arrange this for you.
The LPAs will need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it is legally binding - you can do this on the gov.uk website.
Are there any decisions that can't be made, even with a Power of Attorney?
If your care and support results in you being 'deprived of liberty', either at home or somewhere else, this deprivation of liberty will need to be authorised by an organisation such as a county council, or by the Court of Protection. Your attorney will be involved in this process. A person's liberty may be restricted in order to care for them properly or to prevent them from injuring themselves or getting lost.
You can find out more about Deprivation of Liberty on the West Sussex County Council website.
For more information about power of attorneys, read the government guidance on gov.uk .
What happens if I don't have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
If you no longer have mental capacity and you have not made an LPA, there won't be anyone who has the legal power to make decisions for you. In this situation, a member of your family or friend can apply for a deputyship from the Court of Protection so that they can act for you. Find out more in the 'Deputyship' section.