Ordinary powers of attorney

An ordinary power of attorney (OPA) is a legal document in which someone (the donor) gives another person (the attorney) the right to help them make decisions, or take decisions on their behalf. It can also be called a general power of attorney.

An OPA can only be used if the donor has mental capacity.

An OPA is useful when it becomes temporarily difficult for the donor to manage their affairs, for example because they’re:

  • unwell
  • recovering from an injury
  • travelling abroad

The donor can limit the attorney’s powers under an OPA. For example, they can authorise them to only deal with their financial affairs. The donor can still make decisions for themselves if they want to.

Making an OPA

There is no set way of making an OPA as there is no standard form to complete. But you must use this wording:

“This General Power of Attorney is made this day of (X) by me (donor’s full name) of (address). I appoint (attorney’s full name) of (address) (joint) / (jointly / jointly and severally) to be my attorney(s) in accordance with section 10 of the Powers of Attorney Act 1971.

“Signed by me as a deed and delivered.”

Registering an OPA

Unlike some powers of attorney, an OPA does not need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, and can be used as soon as the donor signs it.

Ending an OPA

An OPA ends if the donor:

If the donor is concerned that they could lose mental capacity in the near future, they can consider setting up a lasting power of attorney for property and financial affairs. This lets the donor choose one or more attorneys to look after their property and finances should they lose mental capacity.