Life can be both busy and unpredictable.  There may be events or times when you may need to give control over your property and financial affairs to someone else.

This may, for example, be because you are working abroad or taking an extended holiday and need someone to act for you whilst you are away.

By preparing a general power of attorney, you can authorise one or more people to manage your property and financial affairs, normally for a limited period.

The person you choose to appoint (the attorney) must

  • be over the age of 18
  • have the mental capacity to act
  • not be an undischarged or interim bankrupt.

A general power of attorney can only be used for your property and financial affairs.  It cannot be used to make health and welfare decisions, nor to appoint someone to take on your role as a trustee, executor or administrator.

It can only be prepared and used if you have mental capacity.  If you lose mental capacity when the document is being used, then the document becomes invalid and in effect cancelled.

A general power of attorney does not have to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian like the lasting powers of attorney (LPA) or enduring powers of attorney (EPA).  It is important that if these documents are prepared, they are done correctly and professionally.

An alternative to a general power of attorney is a property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney.  This type of LPA allows you to choose attorneys to manage your finances for you when you are mentally or physical incapacitated.  It also allows you to ask your attorneys to manage individual transactions should you be unable to do so because, for example you are abroad.

The main difference between the two is that an LPA continues to be valid should the person who prepared it lose mental capacity to make decisions about their finances, whereas a general power of attorney does not.