How to set up Power of Attorney the right way

Oct 21, 2022

If you need someone to manage your property and finances, whether you’re seriously ill or just away for a time, a power of attorney (POA) will be able to help you. 

In a previous blog, we explained what POAs are, the most common types and why they’re important – from people suffering from an illness to those treating themselves to a remote retreat.

If you want the headlines, a POA, also known as a letter of attorney, is a written authorisation that allows a specific person (the attorney), to act for another person (the donor) in their private or business affairs, including property, finances and even medical care. 

There are ordinary POAs, which allow an attorney to look after someone’s financial affairs. The arrangement ends if the donor has lost their mental capacity to make their own decisions. 

Then there are lasting power of attorneys, (LPAs) which is more or less the opposite – they’re for donors who no longer can make their own decisions.

With that out of the way, let’s turn to what we wanted to discuss here: how to set up a POA the right way.


How to choose the right attorney

Choosing your attorney is a good place to start. You can choose one or more people to be your attorney, but if you appoint more than one, you must decide whether they’ll make decisions separately or together. To set up a POA the right way, make sure everyone knows their responsibilities so nobody is confused at a point in time they really shouldn’t be. 

Your attorney(s) must be 18 or over. They could be:

  • a relative 
  • a friend
  • a professional – a solicitor, for instance
  • your husband, wife or partner.

They don’t need to be a British citizen or even live in the UK to be your attorney. Unsurprisingly, they just must have, as the Government website puts it, “the mental capacity to make their own decisions”.

You cannot choose someone who is subject to a debt relief order or someone who is bankrupt if you’re making a LPA for property or financial affairs.

To pick the right attorney, there are a few things to think about. First, how well do they look after their own affairs, such as their finances? That will give insight into how well your affairs will be managed under them. 

Next, think about how well you know them and whether you trust them to make decisions in your best interest. The importance of this goes without saying.

Then, consider how happy they’ll be making decisions for you; the best attorney will be the one that’s happy to help you.

Read about an attorney’s responsibilities to help you answer all the questions you need to put before yourself to make a decision. 


How to set up an ordinary power of attorney

Because ordinary POAs are there to help people who cannot make their own decisions, usually because of illness or disability, it’s a good idea to set one up right away. That way, you can choose one you trust. 

As soon as the donor signs, the powers of their attorney kicks in – there’s no need to register with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). 

If you haven’t set one up, someone will have to apply to court to become your attorney, both for one-off decisions and long-term help.


How to set up a lasting power of attorney

You can make a LPA online or using paper forms. Either way, you need to get people to sign the forms, including the attorney(s) and a set of witnesses.

You can get someone else to use the online service or fill in the forms for you, such as a family member, friend or solicitor. 

Then you need to register your attorney with the OPG. It can take up to 20 weeks to make an LPA, even if there are no mistakes, so we would advise you to get some assistance with the application – we’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Next, you need to certify your LPA. You can do that by proving you’re still able to make your own decisions. To that by writing the following text on the bottom of every page:

“I certify this is a true and complete copy of the corresponding page of the original lasting power of attorney.”

On the final page of the copy, you must also write:

“I certify this is a true and complete copy of the lasting power of attorney.”

You need to sign and date every page.

You can also certify a copy by getting a solicitor or someone authorised to carry out notarial activities to certify it. 

If you need any help with setting up your POA or LPA, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us

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