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There is a number of reasons why you might need someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf. It could be in a temporary situation such as if you are abroad or in hospital and need help with everyday things such as making sure bills are paid. Or you may need to make more long-term plans if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

There are currently two types of power of attorney used in England & Wales - ordinary and lasting. The person making a power of attorney is called a donor and the person appointed to act on their behalf is called an attorney.

In order to make a power of attorney, you must be capable of making decisions for yourself. This is called having mental capacity.

At SC Law we can advise you on all options and prepare the relevant documents for you. We offer very reasonable fees.


Ordinary Power of Attorney

This legal document is used if you want to give someone access to make decisions and take action concerning your finances while you still have mental capacity, so that you can keep an eye on what decisions your attorney is making. This could be looking after your bank accounts, savings, investments or other financial affairs, buying and selling property on your behalf, claiming and spending welfare benefits on your behalf.

You can limit the power you give to your attorney so that they can either deal with all your finances or only deal with specific assets, for example, your bank account but not your home. It is only valid while you still have mental capacity to make your own decisions about your finances. It can be temporary or long term and is often used where a donor:

  • has a physical illness or injury
  • is abroad for a long period of time

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

There are two different types of LPA. One is for property and financial affairs and the other for personal welfare.

The LPA must be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. It is intended for use by people who are at risk of losing their mental capacity, where an ordinary power of attorney cannot be used.

The LPA gives someone you trust full access to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to in the future.

You must make the LPA whilst you're still able to make decisions for yourself and have “mental capacity”. You should choose the attorney, ie the person who you want to look after your affairs, very carefully.

A LPA is commonly used if:

you have been diagnosed with a mental health problem or other disease which can lead to mental incapacity or you think you might develop an illness which might prevent you from making decisions for yourself at some time in the future. Such illnesses include:

  • dementia
  • mental health problems
  • brain injury
  • alcohol or drug misuse
  • the side-effects of medical treatment
  • any other illness or disability

Lasting Power of Attorney for Property & Financial Affairs

A property and financial affairs LPA can give someone you trust, the authority to make decisions about things like:

  • buying or selling property
  • bank, building society, investments, savings and other financial affairs
  • welfare benefits
  • tax affairs
  • debts
  • legal proceedings

A property and financial affairs LPA must be registered before it can be used. You don't have to wait until someone loses their mental capacity before using it. Once registered, the attorney can start making decisions about your property and financial affairs straight away, even if you are still capable of making your own decisions. If you don't want the attorney to be able to make decisions about your affairs straight away, you should make sure that the LPA says this.

Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare

An LPA about health and welfare can give someone authority to deal with and make decisions about things like:

  • where you live
  • your day-to-day care, including what you wear and what you eat
  • your healthcare treatment
  • what contact, if any, you should have with other people
  • access to your personal information

You can make a health and welfare LPA which deals with all aspects of your personal welfare, or only certain things.

A health and welfare LPA must be registered and can only be used after the person who made it has lost their mental capacity.


If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, it is advisable to make the LPA as soon as possible, before you lose mental capacity. Delays can have serious cost consequences and may also cause your loved ones additional upset and distress at an already stressful time.

If a donor does not have the mental capacity to make the LPA it may be necessary for the Court of Protection to become involved. If there is no suitable relative, the Court will appoint a person, called a Deputy, to make decisions on your behalf. This is likely to cause delays in dealing with your affairs and it is very costly to appoint a Deputy. It is far more expensive than making the LPA and registering it.


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