Types of powers of attorney

The UK population is ageing. And, as we get older, we're more likely to develop health problems and illnesses. So more and more of us are arranging for someone we trust to look after our affairs for us. One way of doing that is with a power of attorney.

Until 2007, you could make an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), allowing someone else to make decisions about your property and finance.

Enduring Powers of Attorney were replaced by Lasting Powers of Attorney under The Mental Capacity Act 2005, which came into force in 2007.

An EPA made before 1 October 2007 can still be used. But if the donor has lost or is losing capacity to make his or her own decisions, the EPA will need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used.

Essential to know

Ofcom have published helpful new information aimed at people who need to help a friend or relative manage their communications services.

The guide has been produced with the support of the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and sets out how Powers of Attorney and third-party bill management work in the telecoms sector.

It includes practical information about how to notify communications providers of authority to act for an account holder and also explains how processes differ in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

For instance, in England and Wales a property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney (LPA) legal document needs to be registered with the OPG before it can take effect in relation to a telecoms account.

Learn more about PoA at Ofcom's website.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

Lasting Powers of Attorney made it possible for people to choose someone not only to manage their finances and property, but also to make health and welfare decisions on their behalf.

Property and financial affairs LPA

Under a property and financial affairs LPA, someone you trust can make decisions on your behalf about things like paying your bills, collecting your income and benefits or selling your house. You can include restrictions on what must or must not happen, provided these are workable and lawful, and you can also give your attorney guidance about your wishes.

Health and welfare LPA

Similarly, a health and welfare LPA means that someone you trust can make decisions about things like where you live, your daily routine and, if it expressly says so in the LPA, decisions on receiving life-sustaining treatment.

You can use a property and financial affairs LPA and a health and welfare LPA only after it's been registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). Unlike a property and financial affairs LPA, a health and welfare LPA can only be used by your attorney(s) if you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself.

Ordinary Power of Attorney

Ordinary Powers of Attorney (OPA) are legal documents but they're not registered by the OPG so don't have the same safeguards. OPAs are valid only while you still have mental capacity to make your own decisions about your finances.

BT will accept an Ordinary (sometimes referred to as a General) Power of Attorney document only if it has been formally executed by a solicitor.

An OPA is typically made for short-term use, such as a trip abroad.

Where to get the LPA forms

In England and Wales, the easiest way to get an LPA, and the best way to get things right first time, is to fill in the forms online at gov.uk/lasting-power-of-attorney. Or, from the same web page, you can download the forms or ask for them to be posted to you.

You can contact the Office of the Public Guardian at:

Office of the Public Guardian
PO Box 16185
Birmingham B2 2WH

Email: customerservices@publicguardian.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 456 0300
Textphone: 0115 934 2778
Calling from abroad: +44 300 456 0300
Fax: 0870 739 5780
Phone line open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (except Wednesday)
Wednesday 10am to 5pm
Online: gov.uk/power-of-attorney

Accessing & sharing information

Acting on behalf of a person with dementia

The law in this area can be complex for both people and organisations, leading to confusion about the rights people have under the Data Protection Act. This publication supports people affected by dementia to understand their rights. It has been put together by the Alzheimer's Society with the help of various businesses including BT.

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