Fundamental Differences between Ordinary and Lasting Power of Attorney

There are many reasons why you may need to have someone else to make your decisions or act on your behalf. It may be temporary, for example if you’re in hospital and you need somebody to help you with your day to day activities. On the other hand, you may be making long term plans for circumstances such as being diagnosed with dementia. There are two different types of power of attorney that will be able to meet your needs: ordinary and lasting.

What is ordinary power of attorney?

Valid only for as long as you have mental capacity, ordinary power of attorney is a legal document that authorises one or more people to handle your financial affairs. It’s ideal for situations such as:

  • You only want someone to act for you whilst you can supervise their actions
  • You only need someone to supervise your assets on a temporary basis

With an ordinary power of attorney, you can decide what the document covers, only giving the attorney power in a specific situation such as the sale of a house. Even if you’ve given someone power of attorney, you can still act for yourself.

What is lasting power of attorney?

A lasting power of attorney allows you trust the legal authority to make decisions for you at some point in the future if you wish to lo longer make decisions for yourself or lack the mental capacity to do so. There are two different kinds of lasting power of attorney:

  • Personal welfare
  • Property and financial affairs

Personal welfare

Only able to use if you’ve lost your mental capacity, this grants the attorney the power to decide:

  • where you live
  • medical care
  • your dietary requirements
  • who you have contact with
  • any social activities you should be involved with

You can restrict and specify the kind of decisions your attorney can make, or you can allow them to make all decisions. They must keep your money separate from theirs, and you can request regular detail of your finances. Should you lose mental capacity, details of your income and money will be sent you your solicitor or another family member.

Property and financial affairs

This can be used whilst you still have mental capacity, and the attorney can generally make decisions on matters including:

  • Buying and selling property
  • Investments
  • Mortgage payments
  • Arranging property repairs
  • Paying bills

A lasting power of attorney is valid when:

  • You have the mental capacity to set it up yourself
  • You have in no way been pressured or coerced into creating it.

A lasting power of attorney requires the signature of a certificate provider; on the understanding you have had no pressure to create it. This must be a solicitor, social worker or doctor or someone you know well.