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"What Is A Power of Attorney?" (Part One)

View profile for Helen Dexter
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Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors answer the question "what is a power of attorney?".

There are several types of Power of Attorney and for this reason people can easily become confused about what they need to do to ensure that their affairs are looked after if necessary.

A Power of Attorney is in essence a means by which you give someone authority to deal with something for you.  Many banks, for example, have a third party mandate form which enables the person mentioned in the mandate form to be able to deal with the specific account.

By giving someone Power of Attorney you do not deprive yourself of the ability to act personally yourself.

General Powers of Attorney

This is a legal document which you can sign to enable someone to deal with a specific matter on your behalf (i.e.: selling a house) or in relation to all your financial & property matters.  The authority of the attorney or lawyer and their ability to act for you will however come to an end if you become mentally incapacitated.

Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA)

Until the end of September 2007 it was possible to sign an EPA appointing someone or some people to make decisions for you in relation to your property and finances.

An EPA signed, by you and the attorney or attorneys, prior to 1st October 2007 is still a valid document and the attorney can exercise the power given by it.

An EPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) if you become mentally incapacitated.  After registration only the attorney or attorneys will be able to deal with your property and financial affairs.

If you have signed an EPA and become physically incapable of dealing with your property and finances the EPA does not have to be registered with the OPG.  In these circumstances both you and your attorney will be able to manage and deal with your property and finances.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s)

On 1st October 2007 EPA’s were replaced by LPA’s therefore anyone wanting to appoint someone as an attorney, who would be able to act if capacity was lost, has had to sign an LPA since that date.

There are two types of LPA, one in relation to health and welfare and one in relation to property and financial matters.

An LPA can be signed at any time provided you have capacity. The attorney cannot use the power given by the LPA until such time as it is registered with the OPG.

Helen Dexter works across all of our North East offices wherever her clients need her. She specialises in private client work particularly on matters concerning the drawing up of wills, estate planning, powers of attorney and inheritance tax planning. She can be contacted for advice here.

Part two of this article (coming soon) will explain the different  reasons why you might need a Lasting Power of Attorney.

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