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Choosing a power of attorney

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Choose the right document

This article applies to people looking to create a power of attorney for use in Northern Ireland. If you need to create a power of attorney for use in Scotland, you should read our article on Scotland. If you need to create a power of attorney for use in England or Wales, you should read our article on England and Wales.

What type of power?

The first question that you need to ask yourself is whether you want the document to remain valid if you were to lose capacity to make decisions for yourself. Some powers of attorney cannot be used when a person loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves, whilst others are designed to be used so that another person can care for them and manage their affairs when they lose the capacity to do so themselves, due to an illness, accident or the onset of dementia, for example.

Not for use when lacking capacity

A 'general power of attorney' cannot be used when a person loses capacity to make decisions for themselves, but is designed for use over a limited period of time, for example, someone might need to leave the country for a few months and need another person to look after their affairs whilst they are gone.

For use when lacking capacity

If you need a power of attorney to remain valid after you have lost capacity to act for yourself, you should use an 'enduring power of attorney' which is created under the Enduring Power of Attorney (Northern Ireland) Order 1987. An Enduring power of attorney will give another person the legal power to manage your personal and financial affairs if you ever become unable to manage them yourself or communicate your wishes, possibly as a result of ageing, mental illness or physical incapacity. If you want more information on this topic, read our article on enduring powers of attorney in Northern Ireland.