Power of Attorney, Appointees & Representatives

Power of Attorney

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or make decisions on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you if, for example, you have an accident or an illness and can’t make decisions at the time they need to be made (you ‘lack mental capacity’). You must be 18 or over and have mental capacity – the ability to make your own decisions – when you make your LPA.

A power of attorney (PoA) is a written document that gives someone else legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. Anyone over 16 can make a Power of Attorney and it lasts indefinitely unless you decide to terminate it.

There are 2 types of LPA:

  • health and welfare
  • property and financial affairs

You can choose to make one type or both.

Power of Attorney: Scotland

A power of attorney (PoA) is a written document that gives someone else legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. Anyone over 16 can make a PoA and it lasts indefinitely unless you decide to terminate it. The law says that someone who is currently declared as bankrupt can make a PoA to deal with their personal welfare decision making but not about their financial and property affairs.

Having a PoA lets you plan what you want another person to do for you in the future, should you become incapable of making decisions about your own affairs.

Appointees & the DWP

If you cannot act for yourself

If you wish to claim state (government) benefits but you are unable to act for yourself because of physical or mental incapacity, the Secretary of State can appoint someone to act on your behalf. If this happens, the person appointed is responsible for dealing with all your social security affairs, including claiming and receiving benefits. They are also responsible for notifying any changes of circumstances which may affect your benefit.

If you are able to handle your own affairs but want someone else to collect your benefit for you regularly, you may be able to make arrangements with your bank, building society or the Post Office®. Please ask them to help you with this.

If someone who has not claimed benefits dies

Where the conditions are satisfied, a claim may be made on behalf of the deceased to any benefit other than income support or family credit or a social fund payment to which he would have been entitled if he had claimed it in the prescribed manner and within the prescribed time.

If someone who has claimed benefits dies, any outstanding benefit can be paid to a third party, for example, an executor or next of kin.

Representatives & the DWP

Who is a representative?

A  representative is any person or organisation acting on behalf of or making enquiries for the customer. The representative could be helping a customer in several ways, including progress chasing, helping them make a claim, seeking an explanation of entitlement and how it has been decided, representing them with a reconsideration or appeal, or helping them manage their finances. This can be at any stage of the customer’s business with DWP. (Working with representatives: Guidance for DWP staff: September 2015)

Representatives may include:

  • advice or welfare rights organisations
  • professionals such as social workers, community nurses or doctors
  • family members or friends

Working with representatives: Guidance for DWP staff

Last reviewed: February 2020.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.