How hard is it to make DIY Powers of Attorney?
January 13, 2020 12:58 AM   Subscribe

This is a question for UK Mefites. Should my spouse and I pay a solicitor rather a lot to create Powers of Attorney for us, or is it something we could realistically do on our own?

My spouse and I are in our 40s now and trying to get our act together on some Important Life Things. We contacted a solicitor about getting Wills drawn up, and the solicitor suggested we also create Powers of Attorney -- that is to say, documents that designate who can make decisions for us if we are incapacitated. This seems like a good idea, but having a solicitor do it for us is quite expensive (far more so than the Wills).

It is possible to do this DIY instead and just pay a fee to file them, but we are unsure how difficult this would be. Is it realistic to believe that we could create our own based on Internet templates etc., or is it worth it to pay someone else to do it for us? Does anyone have experience with this?
posted by kyrademon to Law & Government (7 answers total)
The forms you submit and the process are definitely something you can do yourself (I did it for my dad a few years ago). They are a bit fiddly and you have to be very careful about dating and signing them correctly but it's definitely do-able.
This is in the case where you have a reasonably straightforward idea about who will make decisions in what case. If you have complex rules or multiple people you want to be involved I would lean back towards getting a solicitor involved.
posted by crocomancer at 1:23 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I agree with the above. Unless there are issues about which you may benefit from specific legal advice, doing the actual forms just requires sufficient care to enter and date things correctly. I did these myself with and for both parents, both the financial and welfare ones. Take a little time to read and prepare, and it's not difficult at all.

(To be clear, you must use the specific forms and process online, so I am interpreting 'DIY' as completing this process yourselves, not drafting your own documents from scratch.)

The guidance (scroll down on the LPA page to 'using the the paper forms', I think doing it online has exactly the same advice at each stage) is excellent and takes you in detail through every step and box to fill in.

Once done, you can still pay a solicitor to make more certified copies when required (you can't just use an ordinary photocopy). For example, we did this to give copies to different banks.
posted by dowcrag at 3:09 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]

Yes, this is something you can do yourself. They are not the simplest forms (dowcrag's links to the official government forms are correct and all you should need) but if you follow all the instructions, you can definitely do it on your own. It will be a few hours work, including signing it with a witness.

However, those hours will be one of the most worthwhile investments you can make in ensuring the future care of you and your spouse is as smooth as possible. You do not want to be in a situation in a few years time where there are important decisions to make and the hospital / bank / care home needs to see your authority to make them.
posted by humuhumu at 3:41 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Dowcrag is correct.

I would be slightly surprised about PoAs being 'far more expensive' than wills if you're not doing anything complicated in the PoAs, but perhaps that's due to your solicitor having standard rates for different types of document. If you are planning to do anything complicated (and that's why the cost would be higher), I second crocomancer's suggestion to have the solicitor do it.
posted by inire at 4:06 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Just to add, if you do get a solicitor to do it, read the proof copy they send you *extremely* carefully. My parents' original LPAs were done by their solicitor's firm and were a mess of endless but important typos. This is why we then chose the DIY approach when updating the finance ones and doing the welfare ones as well.
posted by dowcrag at 8:17 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

The laws and procedures for this vary across the four countries in the UK.
posted by Lanark at 11:08 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

English mefite here. Note the difference between LPOAs for "Health and Welfare" and for "Property and Financial affairs". You should get both done.

1) Make sure these are registered with the office of the public guardian.

2) When getting certified copies made of these, if the solicitor will do a bunch of them for marginal cost (e.g. the first one for 50 quid, the next one to 10), get a few (like 3-4) of the financial ones. If you have to use them, often you have to send them away to multiple financial institutions......they get sent back to you a week or a month later.
scans or non-certified copies of these documents rarely qualify for you to act on behalf of someone else according to the financial institutions' rules....

3) You should leave the original with a solicitor (Ideally the same one as the wills).
posted by lalochezia at 1:16 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

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