Arranging for someone else to take over
You can give someone else or more than one person (called your ‘attorney’) the legal power to manage your affairs for you. This is known as giving them ‘power of attorney’. This can be a temporary or long-term arrangement.
You’ve probably been involved in making decisions about your care and finances. But there may come a time when it becomes difficult for you to manage all your affairs, or when you become unable to make or communicate decisions.
You may be able to arrange for someone you trust to make decisions about your financial affairs and care if you become unable to. There are different ways you can do this. It could include doing some of the following things:
Setting up a joint bank account, or changing an existing account so it’s held jointly with someone else. This person would then be able to take out money and make payments. They would also become jointly responsible for any overdraft on the account, and they would become solely responsible for the overdraft if you died.
Setting up a third-party mandate.
Arranging for an agent (someone you know and trust) to collect your state benefits. If your benefits are paid through a Post Office card account, you can do this by asking at your local post office. If you receive benefits another way, speak to the office that deals with your payments (for example, Jobcentre Plus or your local Jobs and Benefits Office in Northern Ireland).
Giving someone Power of Attorney. If you’re not sure about what might be best for your individual situation, you can talk to one of our financial guides. Call them on 0808 808 00 00.
You can give one or more other people the legal power to manage your affairs. They are then known as your attorney(s) and legally have Power of Attorney. This can be a temporary or long-term arrangement.
Most people appoint their husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner as an attorney, or another family member or a friend. You can also appoint a professional, such as an accountant or lawyer. It’s essential that you completely trust the person you appoint.
To create a Power of Attorney, you must have mental capacity. A person lacks mental capacity if they are unable to:
understand information relevant to the decision
retain that information
use or weigh up that information as part of the process of making the decision
communicate their decision (by talking, using sign language or any other means).
We have more information about Power of Attorney and mental capacity. The ways people can manage their affairs can vary across the four nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and there are also some legal differences. See our section about Advance care planning section to find more information for your region.
Making and registering a Power of Attorney
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If you make any type of Power of Attorney, think about getting help from a solicitor. You can find a solicitor by contacting one of the organisations in useful contacts.
Once a long-term Power of Attorney has been made (granted), it will need to be registered before it can start.
Registering a long-term Power of Attorney may take some time. You should start the process as early as possible. It’s important to fill in the registration forms carefully to reduce the risk of delays.
A temporary arrangement
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You may want to give someone the power to manage your property and financial affairs for a set time, for example while you’re staying in a care home or away on a long holiday. You can do this using an Ordinary Power of Attorney.
It can be a general power, where your attorney has power over all of your property and financial affairs. Or it can be a specific power to deal with just one aspect of your affairs, such as running a bank account or selling a property.
Depending on the situation, it may be easier to set up third-party mandate for a bank account (see below), or appoint an agent (someone you know and trust) to collect your state benefits.
An Ordinary Power of Attorney doesn’t have to be registered with any official authority. But it does have to be written in a certain way, so you’ll need a solicitor’s help. It stops when the set period ends, or earlier if you cancel the power.
An Ordinary Power of Attorney also comes to an end if you lose your mental capacity. So it’s not the right power to grant if you think this could happen to you.
The mandate should stop working immediately if you lose your mental capacity. As the bank will not know about any change in your condition, it’s important for the person you nominate in the third-party mandate to tell them as soon as possible.
A long-term arrangement
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To give someone power to take over your affairs permanently, you need to use a different type of Power of Attorney. Unlike Ordinary Power of Attorney, this power comes into effect, or remains effective, if you lose mental capacity.
The types and details of long-term Powers of Attorney vary across the UK.
England and Wales
In England and Wales, a long-term Power of Attorney is called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA lets someone make decisions on your behalf for a long period of time. It’s designed so they can make these decisions if you ever lack the mental capacity to make them yourself.
There are two types of LPA. You can make one of them or both:
Property and financial affairs LPA
This allows your attorney(s) to make decisions about things like paying bills, your bank account and selling your house. The LPA can be a general power to look after all of your finances, or it can be restricted to certain areas.
Health and welfare LPA
This allows your attorney(s) to make decisions for you about things like treatment, care, medication and where you live. You can include restrictions and conditions that the attorney(s) must follow. These could specify procedures they need to follow or advice they need to get. For example, some people include a restriction saying the attorney(s) must get your doctor’s opinion before moving you into a care home. Some people also make an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment.
An LPA can’t be used until it’s been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (England and Wales).
There is a fee of £110 (or £220 if you’re registering both types of LPA). But if you’re getting certain benefits, you may not have to pay the fee. For more information about exemptions, visit gov.uk/government/publications/power-of-attorney-fees
The Office of the Public Guardian will only give an exemption if the forms are filled in correctly, so make sure you get help from our financial guides or a solicitor if you’re unsure about them.
You don’t need to have lost mental capacity before your attorney(s) can help with your financial affairs.
As soon as the LPA is registered, they are allowed to make decisions, even if you can still decide for yourself. If you don’t want your attorney(s) to be able to make financial decisions while you’re still able to, you can say this in the LPA.
If you lose mental capacity, your attorney(s) must follow a set of rules when making decisions for you. This is to make sure they act in your best interests.
You can cancel an LPA at any time while you still have mental capacity. If you no longer have mental capacity, an LPA can only be cancelled with the agreement of the Court of Protection.
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
If you made and signed a long-term Power of Attorney before 1 October 2007 in England or Wales, it would have been called an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). Although you can no longer create an EPA in England or Wales, an existing EPA can still be registered and used.
An EPA only applies to your financial affairs. Your attorney(s) can’t make decisions about your health and welfare under an EPA. If you want to give someone the power to do this, you need to set up a health and welfare LPA.
EPAs can still be created in Northern Ireland. If you have an EPA, see below for more information about EPAs in Northern Ireland.
In Scotland, you can set up one or both of the following long-term Powers of Attorney:
Continuing Power of Attorney
This gives your attorney(s) the power to manage your financial affairs. It allows your attorney(s) to make decisions about things like paying bills, your bank account and selling your home.
Welfare Power of Attorney
This gives your attorney(s) thepower to make decisions about your welfare, for example your medical treatment or whether you should go into a care home or hospice. Some people also make an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment.
These Powers of Attorney can’t be used until they have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland). There is a fee to register them (currently £70, which covers either one type of Power of Attorney, or both types if you register them at the same time). For information about fee exemptions if you’re receiving certain state benefits, visit publicguardian-scotland.gov.uk/whatwedo/fees
You can cancel these Powers of Attorney at any time as long as you have mental capacity. If you lose mental capacity, they can only be cancelled with the agreement of a court.
In Northern Ireland, a long-term Power of Attorney is called an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).
An EPA gives your attorney(s) the power to manage your financial affairs. This can be a general power to look after all of your finances, or it can be restricted to certain areas.
While you have mental capacity, an EPA can be used without being registered, in a similar way to an Ordinary Power of Attorney. But if you begin to lose mental capacity, your attorney must immediately register the EPA with the Office of Care and Protection.
There is a registration fee of £115. In cases of hardship, requests to postpone or cancel this fee will be considered. For more information, contact the Office of Care and Protection.
You can cancel the EPA at any time before it’s registered. After it’s been registered, it can only be cancelled with the agreement of a court.
In Northern Ireland, there is no Power of Attorney to give someone the power to make welfare decisions for you. You can say how you would like to be cared for by using documents like the Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment.
Taking over if there is no arrangement
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You can only grant a Power of Attorney if you still have mental capacity. If you lose mental capacity and no arrangement is in place, someone else can apply to the authorities to act for you. This person could be a partner, relative, close friend or professional.
Depending on which UK nation you live in, the person may be appointed as a deputy, receiver, guardian or controller. The details of what these mean vary across the different nations of the UK.
England and Wales
The Court of Protection can appoint a partner, family member, friend or professional to look after your financial affairs. That person is called a deputy. If they applied to the Court of Protection before October 2007, they may be known as a receiver instead.
For more information, visit gov.uk/become-deputy
The Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) can appoint someone as a guardian.
The Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) also runs a scheme called Access to Funds. People can apply to this scheme to access funds belonging to an adult who is no longer capable of accessing them, to pay for bills or anything the adult regularly paid for.
For more information, visit publicguardian-scotland.gov.uk
The Office of Care and Protection can appoint someone as a controller. This person then has the power to manage your financial affairs.
For more information, visit courtsni.gov.uk/en-gb/services/ocp
A deputy, receiver, guardian or controller has basically the same powers and duties as an attorney to manage your property and financial affairs for you.
If there is no one who can act for you, the authorities can appoint one of their own officials to manage your affairs.
For more information about Powers of Attorney or appointing a deputy, receiver, guardian or controller, contact the relevant office in your nation.