Types of power of attorney

To create any type of power of attorney, you must still be capable of making your own decisions, often referred to as mental capacity.

Following are brief descriptions of the main types of power of attorney.

General/Ordinary power of attorney (UK)

A general (or ordinary) power of attorney is available across the UK, however other options are only available in certain areas, so to make it easier to find out what the options are where you live, we’ve grouped them under the headings of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Anyone can write a general power of attorney and it can be set up for several reasons, for example, leaving the country for a significant length of time; going into hospital for a prolonged period; or even after an accident which makes it difficult to get into your bank branch; however, it is only valid while you still have mental capacity to make your own decisions.

You can restrict the power you give to your attorney so that they’re only able to deal with certain things, such as your bank account, but not your home, for example; and a general power of attorney can be cancelled at any time (or have a specified end date).

If you’d like to find out more, we’ve put together a detailed information sheet giving further information about a general power of attorney.

Or if you’d like to compare how the different types of power of attorney affect what an attorney is able to do, see What an attorney can do.

We’ve also put together a standard wording document for you to use when creating a general power of attorney should you wish.

It’s important to remember that this type of power of attorney is only valid while you are able to make your own decisions (have mental capacity). If you are looking to the future and want to allow someone to act on your behalf in the event of you losing mental capacity, you should consider one of the following other options.

For further information on the different types of power of attorney, visit moneyadviceservice.org.uk or seek specialist legal advice from your solicitor or organisations such as Citizens Advice or Office of Public Guardian (Office of Care and Protection in Northern Ireland or Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland).

Whether you’re married, or in a civil partnership, it’s still well worth considering a lasting power of attorney as without one your spouse or partner will not have the authority to manage your finances should you lose the ability to do so yourself. And, it’s best to register it as soon as possible too. During the registration process, the document will be checked for mistakes – if you catch them while you can still manage your affairs you can correct them – if not, your power of attorney might be invalid.

England and Wales

Lasting power of attorney

A lasting power of attorney allows you to give someone else the right to make decisions on your behalf, even if, in the future, you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions.

There are two types of lasting power of attorney (LPA), one for financial decisions and one for health and care decisions. Here we will only cover the LPA for financial decisions.

An LPA for financial decisions can cover things such as paying bills, investing money, buying or selling property. You can limit the decisions your attorney is able to make or you can allow them to make all the decisions on your behalf.

An LPA needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.

If you’d like to find out more, we’ve put together a detailed information sheet giving further information about a lasting power of attorney.

Or if you’d like to compare how the different types of power of attorney affect what an attorney is able to do, see What an attorney can do.

Enduring power of attorney

On 1 October 2007, this type of power was replaced in England and Wales by the lasting power of attorney. English or Welsh enduring powers of attorney signed before this date are still valid.

An enduring power of attorney allows you to give someone else the right to make financial decisions for you and to carry out everyday transactions on your behalf. An enduring power of attorney has to be registered with the Court of Protection if the donor is losing/has lost mental capacity.

If you’d like to find out more, we’ve put together a detailed information sheet giving further information about an enduring power of attorney.

Or if you’d like to compare how the different types of power of attorney affect what an attorney is able to do, see What an attorney can do.

Scotland

Continuing power of attorney

A continuing power of attorney allows you to give someone else the right to make decisions on your behalf, even if, in the future, you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions.

There are two types of continuing power of attorney (CPA), one for financial decisions and one for health and welfare decisions. Here we will only cover the CPA for financial decisions.

A CPA for financial decisions can cover things such as paying bills, investing money, buying or selling property. The CPA must be made by you and you choose to limit the decisions your attorney is able to make or you can allow them to make all the decisions on your behalf. You can also decide if the CPA should be used immediately or only when you’re no longer capable of making your own decisions.

A CPA needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.

If you’d like to find out more, we’ve put together a detailed information sheet giving further information about a continuing power of attorney.

Or if you’d like to compare how the different types of power of attorney affect what an attorney is able to do, see What an attorney can do.

Northern Ireland

Enduring power of attorney

An enduring power of attorney allows you to appoint one or more people to make financial decisions for you and to carry out everyday transactions on your behalf. An enduring power of attorney only has to be registered with the Office of Care and Protection for Northern Ireland if the donor is losing/has lost mental capacity.

If you’d like to find out more, we’ve put together a detailed information sheet giving further information about an enduring power of attorney.

Or if you’d like to compare how the different types of power of attorney affect what an attorney is able to do, see What an attorney can do.

Other ways we can help