Family & Personal Law from Rocket Lawyer

Powers of attorney – not just for elderly relatives

Here at Rocket Lawyer, one of our most popular services is our online tool which  allows Rocket Lawyer members to create a general power of attorney.

You might wonder why this service is so popular, considering its impact: if you grant someone a general power of attorney, it gives them the power to make potentially-life changing decisions about you on your behalf. However, if used properly, in very limited and restricted circumstances and with only the most trusted people as your attorneys, a general power of attorney can be very useful.

Put simply, a general power of attorney helps people who would otherwise need to be in two places at once. For example, perhaps your house purchase has dragged on far longer than expected (this is not uncommon!). As a result, the proposed new completion date clashes with a long-arranged holiday. However, if you have granted a friend or family member a general power of attorney, that’s not a problem: your representative can deal with your property purchase on your behalf while you’re away and sign documents on your behalf.

This scenario probably doesn’t match most people’s understanding of how powers of attorney are typically used. Ask someone what the term means and they’ll probably describe a situation involving an elderly relative. But that’s actually a different type of power of attorney. A lasting power of attorney, which is a much more complex document, is used to manage the affairs of someone whose mental powers are declining on a long-term basis. A general power of attorney, by contrast, is for one-off events – such as the house completion / holiday situation I’ve already described. And it’s certainly not restricted to elderly relatives.

Because both types of power of attorney should be used in different situations, they also have different legal requirements to ensure they’re legally valid. Rocket Lawyer members can produce the general power of attorney document online, using our clever software – that’s the type you’d typically need for short-term, or one-off, events. For lasting powers of attorney, our members can arrange a face-to-face meeting with an expert advisor, who will draw up the documents on your behalf. To find one of our trusted lawyers in your area, search our online directory for a local family law specialist.

Whatever type of power of attorney you’re looking for, it’s obviously vital that you have complete trust in whoever you decide to appoint. After all, you’re (almost literally) putting your own life, or the life of someone close to you, in their hands. That’s a big “ask”, and one that you need to ensure is properly documented.

Pieta Das Gupta

Pieta has over ten years’ experience as a company commercial solicitor working in law firms and for businesses.As the Head of Legal for Rocket Lawyer UK, Pieta is in charge of legal content and work with the product development team to create the documents and guidance available on Rocket Lawyer.