Power of Attorneys: What Kind of Tasks Can an Attorney Carry Out on Your Behalf?

There are a variety of reasons it may make sense to appoint a trusted individual to make decisions and carry out tasks on your behalf. Whether you have concerns about your health, you’re struggling to manage your finances single-handedly or you’re planning to be overseas for a significant period of time, making a power of attorney could take a big weight off your shoulders.

The exact responsibilities your attorney (or attorneys) will be able to take over on your behalf will depend on two things:

  1. The kind of power of attorney you make.
  2. The level of responsibility you wish to grant.

It’s important to talk your specific wishes and requirements through with a specialist power of attorney solicitor, as they will be able to advise you on the right type of power of attorney for you. They will also be able to let you know if any of the things you want to do cannot be done by way of a power of attorney.

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Lasting Power of Attorney: health and care

With a health and care Lasting Power of Attorney, your attorney (or attorneys if you’ve chosen to appoint more than one) would only be able to start acting on your behalf should you lose the mental capacity to make these decisions for yourself. 

In these situations, a health and care attorney would be able to make decisions such as:

  • What kind of medical treatment you should receive.
  • Whether or not to refuse life-sustaining treatment.
  • How you should be cared for, where, and by whom.
  • Whether you should move into a care home.
  • What type of food you should be given.
  • How you should be dressed.
  • What your daily routine should be.

It’s important to note here that though it is possible for a health and care attorney to refuse life-saving or life-sustaining treatment on your behalf, they will only be able to do this if you have explicitly given permission for this in the Lasting Power of Attorney. They will also not be able to go against any wishes you have recorded in an Advance Decision.

Lasting Power of Attorney: finance

A financial attorney can begin to act on your behalf either as soon as you wish them to or not until you have lost capacity. This will need to be made clear in the LPA.

Once you have given your attorney permission to make a start, they will be able to take on responsibilities such as:

  • Managing your bank accounts.
  • Collecting in any payments that are due to you, such as rent payments.
  • Paying bills and invoices.
  • Collecting your pension or other benefit payments you are due.
  • Organising and paying for maintenance on your home.
  • Ordering and paying for purchases on your behalf.
  • Renting out or selling property.
  • Re-mortgaging your property.
  • Giving small monetary gifts to your loved ones to celebrate milestones such as birthdays, graduations or weddings.
  • Making and managing investments.
  • Filing tax returns and liaising with HMRC.

Ordinary Power of Attorney

You can make an Ordinary Power of Attorney as a private individual, or as a business owner. Generally speaking, if you choose to make an Ordinary Power of Attorney as an individual, you will be able to grant your attorney many of the same responsibilities as they would have under a finance Lasting Power of Attorney. However, an Ordinary Power of Attorney can only be used while you retain capacity, so you may need to make a Lasting Power of Attorney as well if you wish to protect against losing capacity in the future.

If you choose to make an Ordinary Power of Attorney to cover your business interests, your attorney could be able to take on tasks such as:

  • Managing completion meetings for transactions.
  • Voting as your proxy in a board meeting.
  • Signing deeds or other documents.
  • Managing the sale of shares.

Are there any powers a power of attorney can never grant?

There are a few things that can never be done on behalf of someone else. This is true whether you have chosen to appoint an attorney as part of a power of attorney, or whether the Court of Protection have appointed a deputy on your behalf.

These appointed representatives cannot:

  • Write a Will on your behalf.
  • Consent to a relationship on your behalf.
  • Make a decision that curtails your freedom.
  • Break the law on your behalf.
  • Refuse basic medical care on your behalf.
  • Give large monetary gifts on your behalf.
  • Mix your finances with theirs.
  • Make decisions that benefit themselves, not you.
  • Delegate their powers to others, unless you have given them express permission to do so.

A health and care attorney will also not be able to make many types of medical decisions on your behalf if you have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, as in these cases any decisions will be made by your medical team.

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