Power of attorney is a legal document and status whereby another person can make decisions and act on your behalf. For instance, if you're temporarily or permanently mobility impaired, your power of attorney can shop for you or act as your agent at the bank or post office. There are two kinds: ordinary and lasting power of attorney.
Ordinary Versus Lasting Power of Attorney
When you give someone ordinary power of attorney, you must have the mental capacity to make your own decisions, even if you decide you want someone else to make decisions for you. Lasting power of attorney is different in that it gives one or more people this authority when you don't have that mental capacity.
How Lasting Power of Attorney Works
When you give someone lasting power of attorney, it means they have the authority to make decisions about your finances and your healthcare when you can't make those decisions for yourself.
With financial LPA, your agent has the authority to manage your finances in ways that you specify. For instance they can arrange to pay your bills and mortgage, sell property you own, and make investments on your behalf, providing you specify that they can do so.
The healthcare aspect of an LPA only comes into effect if and when you lose mental capacity. When someone has LPA to make healthcare decisions for you, it means they can decide where you live, what you eat, who takes care of you, and what kind of medical care you receive. It's important to choose someone trustworthy for this role, as they will have the power to make these and other decisions about you and your life.
Setting Up Lasting Power of Attorney
To set up an LPA, you can request forms from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), or fill out the forms online. They must be filled in by you and signed by witnesses and a certificate provider, which is someone who knows you well and can confirm you understand what you’re doing. The forms must be registered with the OPG while you still have mental capacity in order to be valid. As long as you still have mental capacity you can change your LPA any time by applying to the OPG.