A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which one person (the Donor) gives another person(s) (the Attorney or Attorneys) authority to act on his/her behalf and in his/her name that is to manage his or her affairs. Power may be general, entitling the Attorney to do almost everything the Donor could do himself, or it can be limited in scope. The Donor at the time of executing the Power of Attorney must have attained the age of 18 and have the capacity to understand what the Power of Attorney is and what it is intended to do.
In 1986 the Enduring Powers of Attorney Act 1985 came into force and it became possible for a Donor to give an Enduring Power of Attorney which would endure or continue to operate if the Donor subsequently became mentally incapable by reason of mental disorder as defined by the Mental Health Act 1983. This is provided the Deed is registered with the Court of Protection in accordance with the provisions of the 1985 Act – prior to the Act an application would have to have been made to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a Receiver.
The Local Authority in the name of the Assistant Director of Business Services, Directorate of Adult, Community and Housing Services currently will become Attorney on behalf of clients receiving a service. However this would only be under a General Power of Attorney.
Powers of Attorney currently only confer the Attorney with authority to manage the financial affairs of the Donor. However the Mental Capacity Act of 2005 will introduce a Lasting Power of Attorney from April 2007 which will replace the Enduring Power of Attorney and allow the Attorney to make health and welfare decisions on behalf of the Donor.