You can choose someone to make important decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself. This person is called an attorney.
Your attorney is able to make important decisions on your behalf.
Your attorney must:
• make decisions in your best interests
• only make decisions that the terms of the Lasting Power of Attorney allow them to make
• not pass on the powers they have been given unless authorised to do so
• keep your affairs confidential
• make sure their decisions benefit you and not them
If the attorney does not perform their duties properly they can be made to pay you for any losses you have suffered.
Mistreating or purposely neglecting someone who lacks capacity is a criminal offence. The penalty for this is a fine and/or a prison sentence of up to five years.
The different types of Lasting Power of Attorney
You can appoint attorneys under a Lasting Power of Attorney to make different types of decisions for you. A health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney appoints someone to make decisions such as medical care or moving to a care home. A property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney appoints someone to make decisions such as paying bills or selling your home.
The different attorneys have different responsibilities and can only make decisions about the area they have been appointed to. For example, an attorney under a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can’t make decisions about property or financial matters.
You can have one attorney acting on your behalf for both a health and welfare and a property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney. You can also choose to have different attorneys for both if you want to.
Health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney
A health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to choose one or more people to make decisions about your personal health and welfare. The person or people you appoint are known as attorneys.
The person you appoint as an attorney can only make decisions when:
• the Lasting Power of Attorney has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian
• you lack the capacity to make the decisions yourself
You can give your attorney(s) the power to make decisions about any or all of your health and welfare matters. This can include making decisions on things such as:
• medical treatment
• accepting or refusing types of health care
• whether you continue to live in your own home or move into residential care
If you wish, you can also give your attorney(s) power to make decisions about ‘life-sustaining treatment’ for you.
Your attorney(s) can be given the power to make decisions about day-to-day aspects of your welfare too, such as:
• your diet
• what clothes you wear
• your daily routine, such as going shopping
Property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney
A property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney lets you choose one or more people to make property and financial affairs decisions for you.
Once your Lasting Power of Attorney has been registered, your attorney(s) can make decisions for you even when you still have capacity.
For example, it may be easier for you to give your attorney the power to carry out tasks such as paying your bills. This could be because:
• you find it difficult to walk or travel certain distances
• you find it difficult to talk on the telephone
• you are out of the country for long periods of time
Your attorney(s) can make decisions for you about any or all of your property and financial matters. These decisions can include:
• paying your bills
• collecting your benefits
• selling your house