How Long Does Power of Attorney Last? Find Out Now!

power of attorney is a legal document that designates someone else to make decisions or act on your behalf if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make those decisions yourself. The person you designate is called your attorney-in-fact or agent. This article provides a comprehensive overview of powers of attorney, with a focus on how long they typically remain valid before needing to be renewed or replaced.

The information here is intended for the general public – anyone who may be considering creating a power of attorney, or wants to better understand how long one lasts once executed. Powers of attorney can be an important part of advance planning, so this guide aims to provide essential knowledge to make informed decisions.

There are several different types of powers of attorney. The main ones we’ll discuss are durable powers of attorney, which remain in effect even if you become incapacitated, and springing powers of attorney, which only take effect if you become incapacitated. We’ll also look extensively at Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) – the standard type used in the United Kingdom.

Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that enables you to appoint one or more persons to make decisions about your property, finances, health and welfare if you lose the mental capacity to make those decisions yourself.

There are several benefits to having a properly executed LPA:

  • Peace of mind – You get to choose someone you trust to manage your affairs rather than having a court-appointed guardian.
  • Maintenance of control – You decide what powers to delegate and can outline any limitations.
  • Avoid guardianship – Having an LPA can prevent the need for obtaining costly and time-consuming court-ordered guardianship.
  • Uninterrupted management – Your agent can step in immediately if you become incapacitated.

Conversely, here are some potential consequences of not having an LPA:

  • Loss of control – The court will appoint someone to manage your affairs that you did not choose.
  • Delayed access to funds – It can take significant time for a guardian to be appointed.
  • Additional costs – The court application process can be expensive and time consuming.
  • Benefits issues – Access to pensions or benefits could be disrupted or denied.
  • Care deficits – Guardians may not know your care preferences if you don’t document them.

There are two main types of LPA – each granting different powers:

Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

Health and Welfare LPA covers decisions about medical care, housing, diet, social services, and other aspects of personal welfare. This takes effect if you lose mental capacity to make these choices yourself.

Typical powers granted include:

  • Consenting to or refusing medical treatment
  • Deciding where you live, either permanently or temporarily
  • Arranging home care or other social services
  • Managing diet and nutrition choices
  • Determining who can visit you or information that is shared

Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

Property and Financial Affairs LPA relates to decisions about finances, real estate, taxes, and other monetary matters. This can take effect immediately or only if you lose mental capacity, depending on how it is structured.

Typical powers granted involve:

  • Operating bank accounts and managing investments
  • Paying bills and taxes on your behalf
  • Selling, purchasing or managing real estate or other property
  • Claiming benefits and handling pensions
  • Filing tax returns and dealings with government agencies

Each type of LPA grants your attorney authority to take over decision-making in these areas if you no longer wish to or cannot manage your affairs independently.

Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney

How Long Does a Lasting Power of Attorney Remain Valid?

A properly drafted and executed Lasting Power of Attorney is designed to be durable – meaning it remains in effect until either the donor’s death or revocation of the document. Unlike some other types of POA, an LPA does not expire after a set number of years.

Here are the most common scenarios that can terminate or end the validity of an LPA:

  • The death of the donor – An LPA automatically becomes invalid if the donor passes away.
  • Revocation by the donor – The donor can revoke or cancel the LPA at any time as long they maintain mental capacity. This requires written notice.
  • Lack of mental capacity of the attorney – If your designated attorney loses capacity or is unable to fulfill their duties, the LPA may be voided.
  • Divorce or separation – If your spouse is named as attorney, divorce or separation can invalidate the LPA.
  • Bankruptcy of the attorney – If your financial affairs attorney declares bankruptcy, the LPA may become invalid.
  • Replacement LPA – Drafting a new LPA can invalidate the existing one for those powers.
  • Court order – In cases of misuse or abuse, a court may terminate the LPA.

As long as none of the above applies and the LPA was properly drafted, it can essentially remain valid indefinitely or until you pass away, replacing the need to renew it periodically.

Choosing an Attorney and Registering an LPA

Selecting an appropriate attorney-in-fact is an important decision that should not be taken lightly when creating an LPA. Ideal characteristics to consider include:

  • Trustworthiness – This person will have significant control, so honesty and integrity are crucial.
  • Organization – They will need to keep accurate records and handle paperwork appropriately.
  • Availability – Proximity and ability to act in a timely manner if needed is key.

Common choices for attorneys include spouses, adult children, close relatives, or trusted friends. You can name multiple attorneys on an LPA and split up powers however you see fit.

Once finalized, an LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. This is a formal process that verifies the document and establishes it as legally valid. Key steps include:

  • Completing registration forms and paying fees
  • Background checks on attorneys
  • Mandatory notifications sent out
  • Confirmation of your legal capacity
  • Approval and storage of copies on the OPG register

Proper registration helps prevent misuse or financial abuse later on. You can manage an LPA yourself or hire a solicitor to handle it expertly.

Maintaining and Monitoring an LPA

Once registered, you should take measures to maintain your LPA and prepare others involved. Important practices include:

  • Inform your chosen attorneys and provide them copies
  • Keep original documents in a secure location you and attorneys can access
  • Share details with close family members or friends if appropriate
  • Review annually and revise if necessary as circumstances change
  • Monitor usage if activated and keep open communication with your attorney(s)
  • Record keeping by the attorney should be thorough and organized

Neglecting these maintenance steps can lead to problems down the road if the LPA needs to be used. You want activation to go smoothly and your wishes to be followed.

Potential Challenges and Alternatives

No matter how carefully drafted and monitored, LPAs can present challenges that should be acknowledged:

  • Disagreement on usage or scope of powers granted
  • Misconduct by the attorney, either intentional or unintentional

To minimize issues, have open and specific ongoing conversations with your attorney(s). Get any guidance or limitations in writing. You can also name a backup or “replacement attorney” in your LPA in case conflict arises with your original choice.

In some cases, granting joint powers over certain assets through joint bank accounts or real estate titles may be sufficient or easier to establish. Living trusts are another vehicle to transfer control over assets if incapacitated. Both options have pros and cons compared to LPAs.


A properly drafted and registered Lasting Power of Attorney enables you to select trusted individuals to manage your affairs if you ever become unable to do so yourself. An LPA remains valid indefinitely, with no set expiration, unless specific conditions occur to terminate it. Regularly reviewing and monitoring your LPA helps ensure it carries out your wishes if the need arises. LPAs provide reliable control and protection – offering invaluable peace of mind. However, they require diligent maintenance. Seek guidance from a solicitor when creating an LPA to ensure your document abides by current legal standards.