Managing your own finances can feel impossible if you’re facing an extended stay in hospital or struggling to leave your home. If that’s you, an ordinary power of attorney (also known as a general power of attorney) might be that answer.

 

What is an ordinary power of attorney?

An ordinary power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to nominate someone to manage your finances on your behalf.

The main differences between an ordinary and lasting power of attorney are:

  • An ordinary power of attorney applies only to your financial affairs – not your health and social care
  • An ordinary power of attorney is only valid while you have the mental capacity to make, understand and communicate your own decisions

You might decide to set up an ordinary power of attorney if you’re planning an extended stay away from home – on a trip abroad, for example. It’s also useful if you’re having difficulty leaving your home to access your post office or bank accounts. It allows someone to act on your behalf while you supervise them.

 

What is a general power of attorney then – is there a difference?

When you set up an ordinary power of attorney, you have the option to limit how much your chosen attorney can do on your behalf. For example, you might let them manage one of your bank accounts, but not allow them to sell your home. This is sometimes called a special or limited power of attorney.

So, what want someone to take care of all your financial affairs? That’s when you get a general power of attorney.

A general power of attorney in the UK puts no limits on what someone can do on your behalf, so long as you still have mental capacity. It’s common among those in the armed forces, who are often away for long periods.

 

How do you get an ordinary power of attorney set up in the UK?

An ordinary power of attorney document needs to use particular wording to be valid. If you’re not going for a general power of attorney, wording is particularly important in order to set limitations.

So, while there are free templates online, we recommend that work with a solicitor. They’ll make sure that both you and your attorney are absolutely clear about what the attorney’s role is, and that the wording of the agreement is watertight.

 

How much does an ordinary power of attorney cost?

A solicitor will usually charge up to £500 for drafting an ordinary power of attorney. As mentioned, there are free templates online – but if you choose this option, it’s still best if you ask an expert to check it for you. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau may be able to give you some advice for free.

Once the ordinary power of attorney is in effect, your attorney is entitled to claim reasonable expenses from carrying out their duties. For example, you might need to pay them back for any travel or postage fees. They’ll need to record their expenses and keep receipts, though.

You’ll only need to pay your attorney a salary if they’re a solicitor or another qualified professional.

 

How to choose who to give power of attorney

Anyone aged over 18 can act as your attorney. They can be a family member, friend or partner, or a hired professional, such as a solicitor.

The important thing is that they are someone you trust to act in your best interests at all times. They should also be comfortable with acting as your attorney. Before you draw up the document, you should both have a solid idea of what their responsibilities will be.

You can appoint more than one attorney. If you do, you will need to specify whether you want them to act:

  • Jointly – working together on all matters
  • Jointly and severally – making decisions together and apart as they choose
  • Always jointly in some roles, such as major financial decisions, but jointly and severally in others

 

How to revoke an ordinary power of attorney

An ordinary power of attorney is automatically revoked if you or the attorney lose mental capacity or die. You can also set a time limit on how long the ordinary power of attorney will last when you make it. And if you decide you’d like to end it early, it’s simple enough to revoke.

The proper way to do this is to send a written statement to your attorney that lays out that you’re revoking the agreement. You can find templates for this online. It’s also a good idea to get them to sign the letter to confirm that they’ve read it. The original ordinary power of attorney document should then be destroyed.

 

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