Tax and Estate Planning

How and when to use lasting power of attorney

Many people have heard of lasting power of attorney (LPA) but don't necessarily understand what it is. A new online service means it has never been easier to create and register an LPA. LPAs allow your loved ones and family members to make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity.

 - 6 Min Read
Last updated and fact checked:
How and when to use lasting power of attorney
  • An LPA allows loved ones to make decisions about your care and finances if you lose mental capacity
  • There are two different LPAs, and you choose the attorneys. They only act when and if you lose capacity
  • A new online service makes this quick and easy, and third parties can access the LPA with an access code
  • Execute LPAs for peace of mind; most people are unaware of how important this is and how simple it is to do

Using lasting power of attorney: FAQs

  • How do I activate my lasting power of attorney?

    If you are an attorney and the donor can no longer make their own decisions, you must activate the LPA. If it’s a financial LPA, contact all the organisations connected to the donor, including banks and utility companies. For a Health and Welfare LPA, all the people involved in healthcare will need a copy of the LPA to see that you have the authority to act on behalf of the donor.

  • What can a lasting power of attorney do?

    A Lasting Power of Attorney allows attorneys appointed by the donor to make decisions on the donor’s behalf if they lose mental capacity. These decisions can relate to personal welfare, medical care and treatment or property and financial matters depending upon the type of LPA. An LPA gives the donor reassurance that their loved ones will make decisions about their financial assets and personal care should they lose mental capacity in later life.

  • How do I invoke a power of attorney in the UK?

    A Power of Attorney must first be correctly set up and then registered with the Office of the Public Guardian to be invoked. An LPA doesn’t have to be used when and until the donor loses mental capacity. However, a Property and Financial Affairs LPA can be invoked if the donor is temporarily incapacitated or unable to look after their financial affairs.

  • How does an attorney get access to bank accounts?

    A bank or building society will need to see evidence of the power of attorney before they allow attorneys access to your accounts. Using the new online service, you can provide them with an activation code which enables them to view the LPA online on GOV.UK. The LPA must give the attorney the power to conduct the desired financial transactions both in terms of type and monetary value.

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Pension Times. Commissions do not affect our writers’ or editors’ opinions or evaluations. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

A lasting power of attorney allows people to have protection later in life if they lose mental capacity and cannot make their own decisions about property, finance or their health and welfare needs. An LPA is a legal document produced by an individual - known as the donor - while they have mental capacity as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and in which they nominate attorneys to act on their behalf if they lose mental capacity in the future. Most attorneys are next of kin, loved ones or close family members, and they act on the donor’s behalf.

The different types of LPA

The two types of LPA are health and welfare, and property and financial affairs. Most people execute both of these and often nominate the same people to act, although the attorneys can be different.

Both types of LPA have to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian at a fee of £82 per LPA. Previously, the lasting power of attorney service had been largely paper-based and cumbersome, with long delays. You often had to wait for as long as 20 weeks before an LPA was registered.

Now, there is a new online service for LPAs registered from 2020. This is wholly digitalised, making registration faster and allowing organisations and institutions secure access to the LPA using a unique access code for instant verification. This does away with the inconvenience and delay of waiting for a paper LPA.

When to use lasting power of attorney

The idea is that, hopefully, you will never have to use a lasting power of attorney but that it is always there as a safeguard.

Most people execute LPAs at the same time they write a will. This means that your nominated attorneys can act on your behalf in the years ahead should you become infirm and lose mental capacity. A nominated attorney is usually a spouse or life partner but can be a child as long as they are over 18. You must register an LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian for it to be valid.

How to use lasting power of attorney

You need to think about an LPA carefully when you create it. But once it is registered, you can more or less forget about it until you might need it unless you want to change your attorneys or cancel it. The legislation for LPAs only applies in England and Wales; there are different provisions in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Choosing suitable attorneys is vital, and you can allocate how they make decisions which can be 'jointly and severally' or jointly. Attorneys who make joint decisions need to work well together. You might also include conditions in the LPA, such as a requirement that a financial adviser is consulted for monetary decisions over a specific value or that a doctor should always be involved in decisions about medical treatment, especially life-sustaining treatment.

To create a registered LPA, you can download all the LPA forms and documents on the government website, You must complete the documents correctly to avoid rejection and delay. Discuss the appointments with your attorneys and make sure they understand what is involved and are happy to do it before you complete the paperwork.

You must also include the signature of someone called the certificate provider. This is a third party who is known to you, the donor, and is not one of the appointed attorneys. The presence of the certificate provider is to act as a safeguard against undue pressure or coercion. They are there to confirm that you know what you are doing and are not being pressured by family or friends to create the LPA. There are restrictions on who can act as a certificate provider.

The LPA document must be completed and signed in a particular order, and all the signatures require independent witnesses. Any errors in the way the form has been completed will mean rejection. Each LPA has a unique reference number and, once registered, can be accessed by a third-party organisation with your permission and a unique activation key.

Review your LPAs every four or five years. You might need to appoint replacement attorneys if your original appointees can no longer act because they are too old or infirm or have died.

How you choose to use an LPA depends upon your health and financial circumstances. Some donors only use LPAs for significant decisions or end-of-life treatment. In contrast, others use them for more day-to-day decisions like personal welfare and care. Reviewing your LPAs regularly will ensure they suit your circumstances which may change as you age.

Invoking an LPA

Whether you are using the online service or have an older LPA and are relying on hard-copy documents, you will need to make a list of who to contact in the first instance. If you are using paper copies, you will need a certified copy of the LPA, which a solicitor can produce. Most organisations will not accept photocopies. The online service saves both time and expense.

Financial institutions may include:

  • Mortgage company or landlord for a rented property
  • Banks
  • Building Societies
  • Pension providers
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if the donor receives benefits
  • HMRC
  • Utility companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Investment institutions

For a health and welfare LPA, consider including the following:

  • Doctors
  • Other healthcare professionals
  • Friends and family members
  • Social workers
  • Care workers
  • Dentist

Most organisations will want proof of the power of attorney before they recognise your appointment. Unfortunately, each organisation has a different process. You can usually find out the information they require online, or there is sometimes a dedicated department that deals with LPAs. You may also need to prove your identity and residence status as well as evidence of the power of attorney. You can verify your UD with your passport or driving licence and your proof of residency via a utility bill.

The LPA may limit what you can do with that institution or organisation, so you should understand what the scope is before you speak to any third party. A financial institution has the power to report you to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) if they think you are not acting in the best interests of the donor or if there are any transactions which they are concerned about even if they do appear to fall within your remit as defined by the LPA.

Changing from an EPA to LPA

An Enduring Power of Attorney or EPA is the predecessor to the new LPAs. LPAs in their current form appeared on 1st October 2007, so if you have a power of attorney which precedes that date, then it is probably an EPA.

Enduring Powers of Attorney are similar to LPAs but are less flexible, so you can’t appoint replacement attorneys.

The only way to override an existing EPA is to create one of the new style LPAs.

The content on is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, you should consult a financial adviser that is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. Any references to products, offers, rates, and services from third parties or those advertised are served by those third parties and are subject to change. We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors. We are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide advice, to act as an authorised introducer, or to otherwise sell any financial services or products. However, we endeavour to only link to and highlight brands that are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and/or the Prudential Regulation Authority, and where your money will be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme should you choose to buy a product or service from that particular brand.
See More