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An Overview of Powers of Attorney  

A Power of Attorney gives authority to someone else such as a close relative, friend or your solicitor to act for you and sign documents on your behalf either generally or for a specific purpose. There are various different types of Power of Attorney:

General Powers of Attorney give your Attorney a wide range of authority for example to deal with your bank accounts or to purchase or sell property on your behalf.

A General Power of Attorney can be used to give your Attorney specific authority to transact particular business on your behalf. For example if you are moving abroad and need to appoint an attorney to finalise the sale of your property.

The authority granted by a General Power of Attorney becomes invalid when the Donor revokes the power or when they lack mental capacity. The Donor can revoke the power at anytime and the Power of Attorney may even state for how long the attorney has the power to act.

If the Power of Attorney is to be used abroad, it may need to be notarised.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’ s):

The Lasting Power of Attorney allows the Attorney to act and sign documents for the Donor even if the Donor lacks mental capacity in the future. However, the Attorney must register the Power of Attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. The O.P.G charges a registration fee. A search of the Register can be made to ascertain if a Lasting Power of Attorney has been registered in respect of a particular Donor. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:

• A Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney – where the Donor authorises the Attorney to deal with matters such as buying and selling property, paying the Donor’s mortgage, rent or care fees, opening, closing and operating bank and building society accounts etc.

• A Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney – where the Donor authorises the Attorney to make significant decisions about the Donor’s personal care, e.g. whether they should reside in a residential home, what treatment they should receive, their day to day care, dealing with their personal correspondence and having access to personal information about the Donor.

This is a short summary of some of the issues relating to Powers of Attorney. Please do not hesitate to contact Tim Dysterre-Clark or Andrea Gilman for further information.
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