If you need to self-isolate – to protect your own health or preserve the health of others – you may be understandably worried about how you’ll manage.
Whether it’s shopping for food, visiting the chemists, paying bills or otherwise keeping your finances in order, an Ordinary Power of Attorney (OPA) can help. It allows you to appoint someone you trust who can visit the bank on your behalf, or use your money to buy food or other essentials.
What are Ordinary Powers of Attorney?
An OPA is a legal document which grants a person you appoint – your ‘Attorney’ in legal language – authority to deal with your financial affairs. It’s a way of formally empowering someone to act in your name and on your behalf.
Sometimes called a General Power of Attorney (GPA) it can be extremely useful for dealing with the inconveniences and restrictions of COVID-19 lockdown measures. It also gives people who need to self-isolate an effective way to temporarily manage their day-to-day affairs.
An OPA uses a pre-set form of words, so creating one needn’t be time-consuming or complex. It doesn’t have to be registered and becomes effective as soon as it’s signed. All that’s required is one witness.
Unlike a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) document, which confers more wide-ranging powers and must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, an OPA can only be used in relation to your property, money, and financial dealings.
It can’t be used, for example, by the attorney to make decisions about your personal health and welfare.
How long does an OPA remain valid?
The OPAs validity period will depend on how the document is worded, and this is really up to you.
It could be time-limited, or last until a major event occurs; for example in a case where you’ve lost capacity. An OPA comes to a natural end if you die, or if either you or your attorney lose mental capacity.
Most OPAs are short-term and can be revoked by you at any time. You retain the power to make decisions about yourself even while an OPA is valid.
What activities will an OPA cover?
Again it’s up to the individual. The scope of an OPA can be fairly wide-ranging, enabling the attorney to do anything related to your property and finances.
For that reason we would advise limiting the scope so that your attorney is only empowered to deal with, for example, making standard purchases or operating a bank account you name.
OPAs use this standard form of words:
“This General Power of Attorney is made this day of (date) by me (your full name) of (your home 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.”
If you’re worried that you might lose mental capacity in the near future, another option is to have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place. The OPA can be worded so that the LPA becomes valid if you or your attorney lose capacity.
Is an OPA right for me?
While the coronavirus pandemic is still raging, conferring ordinary powers of attorney on someone you can rely on can help you manage the day-to-day challenges of life under lockdown, or safeguard property and finances if you become unwell.
As a highly successful firm of solicitors, we are experts at facilitating ordinary powers of attorney documents. We can help you put an OPA into place quickly and easily.