The concept of a Power of Attorney (PoA) is a fundamental aspect of legal planning, especially in the UK. It allows an individual, known as the ‘donor’, to appoint one or more ‘attorneys’ to make decisions on their behalf. This becomes particularly vital when the donor is unable to make decisions due to illness or incapacity. However, understanding which type of PoA best suits your needs is crucial for effective legal planning. This blog aims to shed light on the different types of PoA available in the UK, helping you make an informed decision.
Firstly, let’s explore the three main types of PoA in the UK: the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), the Empowering Power of Attorney (EPA) and the Ordinary Power of Attorney (OPA). The LPA is further divided into two categories: the Property and Financial Affairs LPA and the Health and Welfare LPA.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA): An LPA is a legal document that remains valid even if the donor loses mental capacity. It’s a proactive measure ensuring that your affairs are in trusted hands if you’re no longer able to manage them.
- Property and Financial Affairs LPA: This allows your attorney to manage your property and finances, including paying bills, collecting income, and selling or buying property. It’s effective as soon as it’s registered, with your consent.
- Health and Welfare LPA: This type covers decisions about your daily routine, medical care, moving into a care home, and life-sustaining treatment. It only comes into effect when you lose the capacity to make these decisions yourself.
Empowering Power of Attorney (EPA): Unlike an LPA, an EPA didn’t cover health and welfare decisions. While new EPAs cannot be created after October 1, 2007, those made and signed before remain valid. The key aspect of an EPA is that it continues to be effective after the donor loses mental capacity. If you have an existing EPA, it’s crucial to know that it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian when the donor starts losing their mental capacity.
Ordinary Power of Attorney (OPA): This is suitable if you need someone to act for you for a temporary period, for instance, if you’re recovering from an illness or abroad. Unlike an LPA, an OPA becomes invalid if you lose mental capacity.
Choosing the Right PoA:
The decision largely depends on your individual circumstances. If you’re planning for the future, particularly in the context of age-related issues or chronic illness, an LPA is often the best choice. It ensures that your affairs, both financial and health-related, are managed according to your wishes, even if you’re unable to express them in the future.
For temporary or specific financial matters, an OPA might be more appropriate. It offers a short-term solution without the need for registering with the Office of the Public Guardian, unlike an LPA.
Registration and Legal Advice:
It’s important to note that an LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. This process can take several weeks, so timely action is advisable. For more detailed guidance, The Will Centre offers professional advice tailored to your specific needs.
Selecting the right PoA is a significant decision that impacts not just your life but also the lives of those who care for you. It’s a crucial step in ensuring your affairs are managed as per your wishes, providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones. For further advice and assistance in setting up a Power of Attorney, consulting a legal expert is always recommended.