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What is lasting power of attorney?

Last updated 31st May 2019

It’s understandable that end of life plans usually focus on making sure loved ones are provided for.

What’s harder to think about is what would happen to you if you were no longer able to make decisions for yourself.

Building power of attorney into your future plans, will better prepare you for whatever life throws at you.

Find a simple guide below to everything you need to know about lasting power of attorney.

What is power of attorney?

Types of power of attorney

What does a lasting power of attorney cover?

When would someone need power of attorney?

What is mental capacity?

How do you give someone lasting power of attorney?

How much does a lasting power of attorney cost?

How do I make changes to my power of attorney?

Cancelling power of attorney

What if I lose capacity and don’t have a power of attorney?

couple looking at administrative and financial document

What is power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for another person who is no longer able to, or no longer wants to, make their own decisions.

Types of power of attorney

Ordinary power of attorney

Gives someone the authority to look after your financial affairs for a period of time. For example, if you’re physically ill or abroad for a long time. An ordinary power of attorney is automatically withdrawn if you lose mental capacity.

Lasting power of attorney (LPA)

Gives someone the authority to look after your affairs and make decisions for you, if, in the future, you become unable to or choose not to. For example, a dementia diagnosis. A lasting power of attorney must be set up while you have the mental capacity to do so.

What does a lasting power of attorney cover?

Health and welfare LPA

Gives someone the authority to make a range of decisions relating to your care on your behalf. From what you should eat or wear, to very important decisions, such as the medical treatment you receive.

A health and welfare LPA only comes into force at the point you can no longer make these decisions for yourself.

talking to a doctor

Property and financial affairs LPA

Gives someone the authority to make a range decisions about your money and property. From collecting your benefits to paying your bills and selling your home.

With your permission, a property and financial affairs LPA can be used as soon as it’s registered.

close up of an aged businessman using a laptop

When would someone need power of attorney?

You might need a power of attorney for a few reasons.

It could be a temporary situation, for example if you’re in hospital and need someone to help you look after things in day to day life such as paying utility bills or speaking to your bank.

Or, it could be a long-term thing, for example if you are diagnosed with dementia or another illness that could affect your mental capacity. This could mean that you lose the ability to make your own decisions in the future.

Illnesses such as dementia, a stroke or serious injury can affect anyone’s mental capacity at any time and at any age.

Also, if you’re married or in a civil partnership, the right to make decisions on your behalf, is not given to your partner automatically.

That’s why it’s worth setting up a lasting power of attorney regardless of your age, your health or relationship. Life is unpredictable and no one knows what might happen in the future.

door of an emergency ambulance

What is mental capacity?

Mental capacity means that you understand a decision that needs to be made, why you need to make it, and the likely outcome of your decision.

Depending on the circumstance, you might be able to make some decisions and not others. For example, someone might be able to choose something simple like that to wear for the day but might not understand the implications when choosing an insurance plan

How do you give someone lasting power of attorney?

You can make a lasting power of attorney (LPA) online or by using paper forms. Follow the below steps:

  1. Decide who you’d like to have lasting power of attorney.
  2. Talk to this person about your decision.
  3. Contact the Office of the Public Guardian to get the relevant forms and an information pack which is also available on Gov.uk.
  4. Download the forms or fill them in online.
  5. Get the lasting power of attorney signed by a certificate provider. This person signs the document to confirm that you understand the decision you’re making, and that you haven’t been put under any pressure to sign it.
  6. The certificate provider must be someone you know well or a professional person such as a doctor, social worker or solicitor.
  7. You must register the LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used.

You must register your LPA while you still have the mental capacity to do so and it can’t be used during the registration process which takes about 9 weeks.

If you have already signed the LPA but lose mental capacity whilst the process is taking place, your attorney can register it for you.

The process is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How much does a lasting power of attorney cost?

In England and Wales, there's a fee of £82 to register your LPA.

If you’re on a low income, you may be eligible for a 50% discount, and if you’re receiving certain benefits you won’t have to pay anything at all.

How do I make changes to my power of attorney?

You can change or end a lasting power of attorney at any time as long as you have the mental capacity to do so. For example, if your relationship with an attorney changes.

Cancelling power of attorney

Raise your concerns with the Office of the Public Guardian, which has responsibility for monitoring attorneys and deputies and can investigate allegations of mistreatment or fraud. It can report concerns to another agency, such as the police or social services, if appropriate.

To speak to someone confidentially about your concerns of financial misuse or abuse, call the Action on Elder Abuse helpline on 080 8808 8141.

What if I lose capacity and don’t have a power of attorney?

If you lose the capacity to make your own decisions and you don’t have a lasting power of attorney or enduring power of attorney, you will need to apply to the Court of Protection.

The Court of Protection will:

  • Decide whether you have the mental capacity to make a decision
  • Make an order relating to the health and care decisions or property and financial decisions of someone who lacks mental capacity
  • Appoint a deputy to make decisions on behalf of someone who lacks mental capacity

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). 

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.