How to set up Power of Attorney
To give someone the power to act on your behalf, you'll need to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and then register this agreement with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
The LPA has to be submitted by the donor, the person whose finances or health and welfare it covers.
There are two types of Power of Attorney - property and financial affairs, and health and welfare. You can set them both up the same way, but will need to submit two applications.
You can do this yourself or get a solicitor to handle the application for you.
It's not possible to set up Power of Attorney for someone who has lost mental capacity. Instead, members of their family will have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as their deputies. Find out more in our guide to Deputies and the Court of Protection.
- Do you need to prepare a Power of Attorney? Use our selector tool to find out which type you need and how Which? Wills can help.
Step-by-step guide to Power of Attorney
Here, we explain how to set up and register a Power of Attorney.
1. Choose an attorney to act on your behalf
As a donor, you give details of the attorneys you wish to appoint and the capacity in which you want them to act (jointly or 'jointly and severally').
Being able to act severally means each attorney can use the Power of Attorney independently. This is a great advantage when attorneys live some distance apart.
Banks and building societies normally ask for one of the joint attorneys to be identified as the ‘lead’, but unless they can act severally, their scope for manoeuvre is severely limited
It’s possible to impose various restrictions and conditions on your attorneys, although these may be rejected if they are unworkable.
2. Get signatures from certificate providers
Separate forms are also completed by a ‘certificate provider’ (often your doctor) who attests to your understanding (capacity), and by each of the attorneys you have chosen.
You, your attorneys and your witnesses will all need to sign the forms before they're submitted.
3. Submit Power of Attorney forms to OPG
Once the Power of Attorney forms have been signed, you need to return them to the OPG with payment.
If you've used the government's online service to create your LPA, you can also submit the form online. Otherwise, you'll need to fill in sections 12 to 15 of the paper forms, and send them to the Office of the Public Guardian.
It can take between eight and 10 weeks to register a Lasting Power of Attorney.
4. Notify 'people to be told' with LP3 forms
In the Power of Attorney forms, you'll be asked to identify 'people who need to be told' - meaning people who should know that you are planning to register a Power of Attorney.
If you've identified anyone here, make sure you send them a notification form (LP3). They have three weeks to raise any concerns with the OPG.
But you don't need to name anyone in this section if you choose not to (and your relatives don't have a right to be informed unless you name them).
5. Register your Power of Attorney
Once the OPG is satisfied, it will send back a stamped copy of the Power of Attorney, showing that it has been accepted and registered.
Without the stamp of the OPG, an LPA is not valid and can't be used.
Although the registered Power of Attorney is sent to the donor who makes the application, it is sensible to pass the original document to the lead attorney, who can keep it safe until it's needed.
If you have used a solicitor to make your application, they will often keep the PoA until one of your attorneys asks for it. In both cases, you should obtain certified copies of the PoA, using these with banks and other institutions as required while keeping the original safe.
Power of Attorney cost
When you return the signed Power of Attorney forms to the OPG, you’ll also need to submit payment.
The fee per Power of Attorney is £82 – so if you want to register a property and financial affairs LPA, and a health and welfare LPA, it’ll cost you £164.
If you earn less than £12,000, you can apply for a reduction. You may also qualify for an exemption if you’re on certain benefit, such as Income Support.
Some people prefer to get their Power of Attorney prepared by a solicitor. This can prevent mistakes which sometimes cause an application to be rejected, but the cost of applying through a solicitor is considerably higher - some charge as much as £500, plus the £110 OPG fee.
- Need assistance? Use the Which? Wills selector tool to find out which type of Power of Attorney suits your circumstances.
Authority to act as an Attorney
To act as an attorney, you will need certified copies of the original Power of Attorney. These are accepted by banks and other institutions and prevent any risk of the original (stamped by the OPG) getting lost.
A normal photocopy is not sufficient, unless it has been countersigned by the donor while they still have capacity. But to be valid, such copies must have the following:
- At the bottom of each page, the donor must write: ‘I certify this is a true and complete copy of the corresponding page of the original Lasting Power of Attorney.’
- On the final page of the copy, the donor must write: ‘I certify this is a true and complete copy of the Lasting Power of Attorney.’ Every page must be signed and dated.
Most solicitors will provide certified copies of the OPG document for a very modest charge, even if they didn't provide the original Power of Attorney.
Using Power of Attorney with a bank
Most attorneys for property and financial affairs deal with the donor’s bank.
Before you can do this, you have to go through another registration process with the bank.
1. Register a Power of Attorney with a bank
When you register with the donor's bank, they will need to see:
- The original LPA document stamped by the OPG (or a certified copy, signed by a solicitor)
- Proof of each attorney’s identity (their passport, or a driving licence)
- Proof of each attorney’s address (a recent utility bill)
In branch, the bank takes photocopies of the Power of Attorney form and supporting documents. If there are joint attorneys, each one can normally have their documents copied separately at their local branch. If registration is done by post, everything needs to be sent - including supporting documentation.
If you are dealing with the affairs of someone with accounts at more than one bank, you will have to go through the registration process several times.
2. Declare the donor's capacity
If you wish to act as someone’s Attorney with a bank, you must make a declaration about whether the donor still has capacity (continuing to sign cheques and receive statements and correspondence, for example) or whether they lack capacity, in which case the attorneys take over entirely.
No medical evidence is required for this, although attorneys must report the donor’s condition accurately.
If the donor lacks capacity, they will no longer be able to issue cheques or authorise withdrawals from their account, for example. If they have capacity, but require an attorney to act on their behalf for certain transactions due to physical incapacity, for example, they can continue to make withdrawals and issue cheques independently.
Find out more: The Which? Later Life Care website gives free, independent and practical advice about caring for older people across the UK.
3. Making payments with a Power of Attorney
Most banks will give you telephone and online access to the donor’s account, in addition to being able to give instructions in branch and sign cheques. This is not always the case, however, especially where the donor still has capacity.
Other points of difference include the issuing of cheque books to attorneys and the automatic forwarding of duplicate statements.
Some banks provide cheque books with the attorney’s name printed together with that of the donor, while others expect attorneys to sign cheques which bear the donor’s name. Statements are normally sent to attorneys where requested, but not all banks forward them automatically
4. Applying for accounts or credit with a Power of Attorney
Applying for a new Isa in the name of a donor is allowed by most banks, as is opening new savings accounts- so having Power of Attorney on your account doesn’t mean you have to miss out on tax-free interest or the best rates.
Borrowing is normally discouraged. Very few banks permit a Power of Attorney credit card, and the use of an overdraft facility is similarly restricted.
The OPG has produced a guide for Attorneys in conjunction with the British Bankers Association (BBA) and the Building Societies Association (BSA).
Attorney’s duty of care
Acting as an attorney obliges you to maintain a duty of care to the donor, not to benefit yourself. It’s important to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.
Specifically, you must keep the donor’s money and property separate from your own and keep accurate accounts in all of your dealings as an attorney.
Cancel your Power of Attorney
As long as the donor still has mental capacity, they can end the lasting power of attorney.
To do this, you’ll need to send the OPG the original Power of Attorney, as well as a written statement called a ‘deed of revocation’.
You can find the wording for this deed at the government’s power of attorney guide.
Scotland and Northern Ireland
The process for setting up Power of Attorney in regions other than England and Wales is slightly different.
Once your Power of Attorney is registered, the process for using it with banks is much the same as in England and Wales.
We explain the key points below.
To register your Power of Attorney, you'll need to submit forms to the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland - either online or via post.
You'll need to submit the PoA document, alongside the schedule 1 Certificate registration form and fee (which is currently £77).
In Northern Ireland, your Power of Attorney must be registered with the Office of Care and Protection.
You'll first need to notify certain people via an EP1 form. You can then send the signed Enduring Power of Attorney and the form EP2 to the Office of Care and Protection, along with the £115 fee.