What is Power of Attorney (POA)?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document which features statements called ‘powers’. These powers give someone else the authority to make specific decisions about your life if you were to need help or lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. The person who gives permission is known as the ‘Granter’ and whoever agrees to act on that person’s behalf is the ‘Attorney’.

There are three different types of Power of Attorney:

  1. General Power of Attorney (GPA) is usually created for a set amount of time or for a specific issue.
  2. Continuing Power of Attorney (CPA) allows you to appoint someone to look after your property and financial affairs and could include the powers to manage bank accounts or sell a house.  If you want to authorise someone to act on your behalf whilst you are still mentally capable, this is only to assist you – your decisions still lie with you.
  3. Welfare Power of Attorney (WPA) enables the Attorney to make decisions about your health and welfare but only if you are unable to do this yourself. No-one can make decisions about your welfare whilst you have the ability to do this for yourself.

Why should I get one?

Nobody has automatic authority to make decisions about your life if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself, unless there is a Power of Attorney set up in advance. If you have not appointed an Attorney, another person would, in most cases, have to go to Court to get the authority to act on your behalf.

This process may take a long time, cost a lot and above all it can be a very stressful and emotional experience for everyone involved. Importantly, this person may not be who you would have chosen as your Attorney. They may also struggle to know what your wishes would have been and this could lead to very different decisions being made to what you personally would have wanted.

You can avoid this by granting someone as your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf, whilst you are still capable.