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What can a power of attorney and other types of representative do?

What can a power of attorney do?

As long as you still have mental capacity and are setting up a Power of Attorney, this has to be specified by you. You can decide what your attorney(s) can do and which accounts your attorney(s) have access to.

If someone no longer has mental capacity, the relevant court order will specify what the appointed representatives can do.

Attorneys and appointed representatives can’t run up an overdraft or get you into any debt. Here's what they can do:

Savings and current accounts

You can specify what your attorney can do on your savings or current accounts, and which accounts they have access to. They can write cheques and withdraw cash, use a debit card, make payments and transfers and access your account online and by telephone. They can also open and close accounts on your behalf.

When you have an attorney on your account, we can only give one of you the passbook, chequebook or debit card (if your account comes with these), so you need to decide which one of you will have them. We’ll only send your statements to one address.

Mortgages

Attorneys can make payments to your mortgage and help to manage it on your behalf, but they can’t borrow more money.

Remember, each time an attorney comes into the branch, they must bring proof of ID.

Your Options Find out more
If you still have mental capacity but you need someone to help manage your finances there are several options to choose from.
Helping Friends and Family Find out more
Options for family and friends if someone no longer has mental capacity.
Who can be a power of attorney? Find out more
Guidance for who can be a power of attorney and who to choose
How to register
Find out how to register a power of attorney or court order with us
Find out more
  • What is mental capacity?

    In England and Wales mental incapacity is governed by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Mental incapacity is defined in the Act to arise ‘because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain’. The assessment of a person’s capacity must be based on their ability to make a specific decision at the time it needs to be made and not their ability to make decisions in general.

    The Act also provides that the impairment or disturbance does not have to be permanent. A person can lack capacity to make the decision at the time it needs to be made even if the loss of capacity is partial, temporary or their capacity changes over time.

    Mental capacity means being able to understand a specific decision, retain information for long enough to make it, weigh up different choices and communicate the decision in any way possible.

    The starting assumption must always be that the person has the capacity to make a decision, unless it can be established that they lack capacity. A person may also lack capacity to make decisions about one issue but not others.

    Mental capacity can change over time and someone may not be able to make a decision at one time, and then be able to make the same decision at another time.

    Someone with mental capacity is able to communicate decisions through speech, signs, gestures or in other ways. Taking time to understand or communicate may be mistaken for a lack of mental capacity, but having dementia, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean someone can’t make any decisions themselves.

    If someone is having difficulty communicating what sort of decision they want to make, an attempt should always be made to overcome that difficulty and help the person decide for themselves.

    Assessment of mental capacity is a medical function - our staff, no matter how well they know you as a customer or your family and friends, aren’t medical professionals and so can’t advise on someone’s mental capacity.