Power of attorney – all you need to know

Published  12 September 2022
   10 min read

A power of attorney (POA) allows the individual to give one or more trusted friends or family members the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf.

Why is a power of attorney needed?

If an individual loses their ability to deal with their bank accounts or pensions, their spouse or civil partner can automatically deal with them, correct? No. If there’s no power of Attorney in place, their family or friends will have to go to court to get authority to make decisions on their behalf; this is normally costly and time consuming.

Setting up a power of attorney is like taking out insurance – you may never need it but it’s good to have it just in case.

Are there different types of power of attorney?

Yes. And they differ depending on which area of the UK the individual lives. Let’s take a look in more detail.

England and Wales
Property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney Covers all aspects of someone’s financial wellbeing. This may include managing their bank accounts, paying bills, making gifts on their behalf, or selling property. 
Health and welfare lasting power of attorney Allows someone to make, or help the individual make, decisions around how they’re cared for. This could include anything from deciding where they live or arranging for carers to help the individual.

A lasting power of attorney can only be used once it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.  It has produced a step-by-step guide that gives you more information on power of attorney and how to apply. 

The Office of the Public Guardian has produced a useful guide on powers of attorney

Continuing power of attorney  Allows the attorney to make decisions on an individual’s money and/or property, such as paying bills, managing savings and investments, arranging repairs to the home or buying/selling property.
Welfare power of attorney Covers an individual’s health or personal welfare.  This may mean choosing where the individual lives or what medical treatment they may receive.
Combined power of attorney Attorneys can make both financial and welfare decisions.

For more information on how to apply visit The Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) website

Northern Ireland
General power of attorney Sometimes known as ordinary power of attorney, give someone the authority to manage property or money on a temporary basis. A general Power of Attorney will cease if the individual is mentally incapable of making their own decisions.
Enduring power of attorney Lets the attorney act on the individual’s behalf if they become mentally incapable to make their own decision. This will include making decision on both financial affairs and health and welfare.

For more information, visit Managing your affairs and enduring power of attorney

Does the individual need a solicitor?

It’s not necessary to use a solicitor to create the various powers of attorneys. The links provided above contain guidance to help fill out the forms needed to create the power of attorney. The links also include helplines that can be called to help with any issues and concerns.

If an individual chooses to use a solicitor, it’s worth remembering that they’ll charge a fee for completing the form. As fees for creating a power of attorney differ between solicitors, it’ll be worth comparing fees for the service they offer before deciding.



Further information


The information provided is based on our current understanding of the relevant legislation and regulations and may be subject to alteration as a result of changes in legislation or practice. Also it may not reflect the options available under a specific product which may not be as wide as legislations and regulations allow.

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