Acting on someone's behalf

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If someone is unable to make decisions for themselves, they may need someone else to act on their behalf. The main way of doing this is through a Power of Attorney.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you appoint someone to make decisions about your welfare, money or property. It can be used if you are not able to make your own decisions.

It allows you to appoint someone that you trust as an ‘attorney’ to make decisions on your behalf. Attorneys can make decisions for you when you no longer wish to or when you lack the mental capacity to do so.

A LPA can help you plan how your health, wellbeing and financial affairs will be looked after. It allows you to say in advance:

  • what decisions you want made if you lose capacity to make them yourself
  • who you want to make these decisions
  • how you want them to make these decisions

Having a LPA is a safe way of maintaining control over decisions made for you because:

  • it has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used
  • you choose someone to provide a ‘certificate’, which means they confirm that you understand the significance and purpose of what you’re agreeing to
  • you can choose who gets told about your Lasting Power of Attorney when it is registered (so they can raise concerns)
  • your signature and the signatures of your chosen attorneys must be witnessed
  • your attorney(s) must, by law, act in your best interests

The Office of the Public Guardian provides helpful support and advice about LPAs.

There are two different types of LPA, covering:

  • health and welfare
  • property and financial affairs

You can choose to have both of these, or just one.


If someone receives Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits the DWP can authorise someone to act on their behalf. This person or organisation is called an ‘appointee’.


If you get benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions, you can arrange for someone to deal with your benefits on your behalf. The Court of Protection issues Deputyship Orders which allow someone else to look after your savings or other assets.

For more information, see our section about Help with benefits and money issues.


Did you know you can nominate someone to vote on your behalf?

How to apply

You can now complete a lasting power of attorney online.

You can do this on the Office of the Public Guardian website. Please use the link below:

When you apply to register your Lasting Power of Attorney, there is a fee.

You may not have to pay any fees if you receive certain benefits or have a low income. 

If you have complex assets, or your family doesn’t get on, you may want to get help from a solicitor. 

You can also phone the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300.