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Power of attorney. Dealing with other people's debts.

Power of Attorney (PoA) is when someone gives another person legal permission to act on their behalf. You may need this to talk to their lenders.

We can talk to you on behalf of someone you know without PoA. We just need their permission over the phone or in writing.

You may want to give PoA to someone your trust if you need debt advice but know it will be difficult or stressful for you.

Does someone you know need debt advice? 

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What are the different types of power of attorney? 

There are two types of PoA. You can apply for one or both of these.

1. Power of attorney for health and welfare decisions

This is used if you need to make decisions about someone’s:

Power of attorney for property and financial affairs

This is used to help someone deal with:

  • Debts
  • Mortgaged property
  • Pensions
  • Investments

There are different terms and processes for power of attorney between UK countries. But the same principles apply.

When is power of attorney (PoA) useful?

PoA is a legal document. This means it must be recognised by all:

  • Organisations
  • Institutions
  • Services
  • Lenders

It is supposed to help people who are struggling with:

  • Mental impairment
  • Physical health problems
  • Communication difficulties
  • Mental health problems

These issues may make it harder for the person to deal with their finances on their own.

PoA can also be useful for people who find it hard to contact the people they owe because:

  • They are abroad or
  • In prison

Who can have power of attorney?

Almost anyone can act as an attorney.

People usually ask a trusted family member or friend to be PoA.

You could also ask a:

  • Legal professional
  • Medical professional or
  • Care professional

An attorney must be 18 or over (16 or over in Scotland).

A PoA for property and finances cannot be bankrupt.

Helping someone who can no longer give permission

Someone can only give you PoA if they are still able to make their own decisions.

People may lose this capacity due to:

  • Illness
  • Dementia
  • Injury

People without 'capacity' cannot give you power of attorney.

In these cases, you need to apply to a court to give you permission to make decisions for them.

It involves costs and you may need help from:

  • A solicitor
  • Social services
  • A medical or care professional

Age UK can give you information if you are helping an older person.

  • Their website has useful fact sheets
  • Call them on 0800 169 2081

Further help with power of attorney

Social services or any involved health or care professionals can give you more advice on power of attorney.

For more on setting up power of attorney, including forms and costs:

Free and confidential debt advice

Use our free online debt advice tool to find the best options for you or the person you want to help.