Different areas of legal authority
An appointee looks after and manages someone else's benefits, such as:
- Universal Credit
- State pension
- Pension Credit
- Disability Living Allowance (Care & Mobility)
- Attendance Allowance
- Employment Support Allowance and
- other benefits.
A person that has mental capacity but lacks physical capacity due to a disabling illness or being housebound for example, may decide to appoint someone to manage their affairs.
To become an appointee you will need to complete a BF56 form at an interview with DWP. Find out more about becoming an appointee at GOV.UK.
Ordinary Power of Attorney
This allows you to nominate someone to make decisions on your behalf if you are physically incapable of doing this either temporarily or permanently. An ordinary power of attorney is sometimes called a general power of attorney. You must have the mental capacity to nominate someone to act on your behalf in relation to your finances.
- You can only enter into an agreement like this with someone who has mental capacity to make decisions about their finances and give authority
- Ordinary powers of attorney are temporary agreements to cover situations such as being in hospital
- If the person loses their mental capacity the power of attorney will no longer be valid.
Lasting Power of Attorney
This allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf when you can no longer do so because you lack mental capacity. There are two types – one covers decisions about your property and financial affairs and the other covers decisons about your health and welfare.
You can only set up a lasting power of attorney while you still have mental capacity and it can only be used (unless stated otherwise) when you lack mental capacity.
A lasting power of attorney can only be used after it has been registered and sealed by the Office of the Public Guardian.
If you are going to take on the responsibility of managing a person's finances that doesn't have mental capacity and they do not have a registered lasting power of attorney you will need to apply to be their deputy.
This applies in all cases where someone lacks mental capacity and has not made prior arrangements. A deputy is someone appointed to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. They can be a:
- Close friend
- Close relative
- Professional, like an accountant or a solicitor
- The Local Authority.
Being the next of kin does not give you the legal authority to make decisions or manage another adult's finances and you could be acting unlawfully.