The strange thing about making a lasting power of attorney with a loved one is that you make it hoping you won’t ever have to use it. If you’re called upon to step up as an attorney, it can be scary and overwhelming. Luckily, activating a power of attorney in the UK is reasonably easy. Here’s what you need to do.

 

Before we tell you how to activate a power of attorney…

You need to check that the lasting power of attorney (or LPA) is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

If it is, there will be a stamp on every page. If not, you need to register it before activating the lasting power of attorney. Don’t worry: it’s simple. Find out how to register an LPA here.

 

When is a power of attorney activated?

The rules on when you can start activating a lasting power of attorney vary depending on what type of LPA it is.

  • If it’s a health and welfare LPA, you can only activate it if the donor (that’s the person who made the LPA) has lost mental capacity and can’t make their own decisions. 
  • If it’s a property and financial LPA, you may be able to activate it as soon as it’s registered. The LPA will say whether this is the case. If not, then again it you can only use it if the donor is unable to make decisions on their own.

You can find out how you can tell if someone has the mental capacity to make decisions here.

 

How to activate a power of attorney

So, once you’re ready, how do you activate a power of attorney? 

 

  1. Make a copy or two

The first thing you should do is get a certified copy of the LPA. A solicitor can make one up for you for £15 to £35. This means you can hold on to the original and send the copy out to whoever needs to see it.

 

  1. Figure out who to notify

Make a list of all the organisations and people that look after the donor. On the financial side, think about:

  • Banks
  • Mortgage providers / landlords
  • Pension providers
  • The department of work and pensions, if collecting a government pension or benefit
  • HMRC
  • Utility companies (water, gas, electricity, internet etc)
  • Insurance providers
  • Investment portfolio managers

And if it’s a health and welfare LPA, consider:

  • Friends and family members 
  • Doctors and other healthcare professionals looking after them
  • Care workers, social workers and other social care staff

  To take over from the donor, you’ll need to let these organisations and people know what’s going on. Some will want to see proof, which brings us to the next part…

 

  1. Notify people and organisations to start activating the power of attorney

While you can tell friends and family with a quick phone call, financial organisations (like banks) will need proof that you really do have power of attorney.

This is understandable — you wouldn’t want just anyone to be able to turn up and access your account. 
We recommend approaching the bank this way:

  1. Visit the website to see what the process for activating a power of attorney is. Print off the relevant pages to bring with you in-branch, or save the link on your phone to show staff later.
  2. Go in branch, bringing the printed pages, a valid ID (passport, driver’s license), and proof of address (a utility bill or a council tax bill).
  3. If the staff at the desk haven’t heard of an LPA or don’t know how to activate a power of attorney, show them the page from the website or ask to speak to the person who looks after power of attorney questions.

Depending on the bank and any limits of your powers in the LPA, they may give you access to the donor’s account online or a debit card. If they aren’t providing you with the access you need to easily help the donor, don’t be afraid to push back. You’re not doing anything wrong.

That said! Remember, as an attorney you have a duty to look out for the donor’s best interests. If the bank sees any transactions that don’t look right they may report you to the OPG.

 

Your duties as an attorney

It’s not easy, being someone’s attorney. You may need some support as time goes on. You might find the links below helpful:

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