Powers of attorney

Overview

A power of attorney is a document in which you grant someone else the power to run your affairs for you if you become mentally incapacitated in the future for any reason through illness (such as dementia) or accident.

There are two kinds of power of attorney which will help if you become mentally incapacitated:

  • continuing (financial) power of attorney – someone to look after your money and property
  • welfare power of attorney – someone to decide about your personal welfare, such as medical and care decisions.

You can make one power of attorney covering both welfare and money matters, or two powers, appointing different people. You can appoint joint attorneys or choose someone as a substitute attorney in case your first choice can’t carry on. Your attorney needs to be someone you trust - a relative, friend or professional.

To set up your own power of attorney, see a solicitor. Ask about the cost first, and shop around. You can see a sample POA here

Your solicitor will make sure the document lists the powers you want your attorney to have and is correctly drawn up. Your power of attorney must include a certificate, signed by a solicitor, advocate or doctor, to say that he or she spoke to you just before you signed and is satisfied that you understood what you were doing and were not under anyone else’s influence.

Before it can be used, your power of attorney must be registered with the Public Guardian. Your solicitor will normally do this for you.

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