General Power of Attorney

Giving temporary support to someone with all or some of their finances

A General Power of Attorney allows family, friends or a professional person such as a solicitor to look after someone else’s finances on their behalf. These people are known as attorneys.

If the account holder sets up a General Power of Attorney with you as one of their attorneys, you can:

  • Use it on all of the account holder's accounts – or just on the ones they choose
  • Cancel it at any time.

It can be useful for someone to make you their attorney if:

  • They go into hospital or are recuperating from an illness, operation or accident
  • They travel a lot and need someone in the UK to manage their finances
  • They’re waiting for a Lasting Power of Attorney to be set up.

To set up a General Power of Attorney the account holder needs to be able to make financial decisions for themselves. If this changes after the General Power of Attorney has been set up, it will end.

Who can be an attorney?

You might be a friend, relative or professional person such as a solicitor or accountant. You must be over 18 (in Scotland it's 16), and the account holder can appoint more than one attorney.

If more than one attorney is appointed, the account holder will need to specify whether you are to act:

  • Jointly – this means that the attorneys must all sign for transactions and make joint decisions and they cannot act independently of each other
  • Jointly and severally – this means the attorneys can make decisions either on their own or with other attorneys.

Account holders can also state that attorneys act jointly in some matters and jointly and severally in others.

Each attorney will be required to attend their nearest branch with their ID before they are able to start managing the account.

What can you do as an attorney?

This needs to be specified by the account holder. They will decide what you can do on their accounts, and which accounts their attorneys would have access to.

As an attorney, you can never run up an overdraft or get the account holder into any debt. Here's what you can do:

Savings and current accounts

The account holder can specify what you can do on their savings or current accounts, and which accounts you have access to. They can agree that you can write cheques and withdraw cash, use a debit card and make payments and transfers. You can also close accounts for which you've been given permission.

We can only give one of you a passbook, chequebook or debit card (if the account comes with these), so you need to decide which one of you will have them. We’ll only send the account holders statements to one address, so they will need to decide whose address to use for this.

Credit cards

You can make payments to the account holders credit card and help to manage it on their behalf but you can’t use their credit card to buy anything.


You can make payments to their mortgage and help to manage it on their behalf, but you can’t borrow more money.

Remember, as an attorney, whenever you come into the branch, you must bring proof of your ID.

Setting up a General Power of Attorney

Follow these simple steps to get set up.

The account holder can write their own document, as long as specific wording is used, and the document is signed and witnessed correctly. They may wish to seek advice from a solicitor or from their local Citizens Advice Bureau to ensure that the correct wording has been used.

Once you’ve got the document, register it with us by coming into branch. We don’t charge to register a General Power of Attorney with Nationwide. You can make an appointment at your nearest branch. Only you, the attorney, need attend (the account holder has the choice to attend or not).

You must bring:

  • The original or a certified copy of the General Power of Attorney
  • A list of all the accounts that you, as an attorney, have been asked to manage
  • Information about any restrictions your account holder wants – for example, the maximum you can take out in one go
  • Proof of ID and address. You can’t use the same document to prove both your name and address.

About a week following your appointment, we’ll send a letter to tell you that the General Power of Attorney has been set up. We will send one copy only of this letter to either you or your account holder – whichever they prefer.

How to cancel or change the General Power of Attorney

To make a change, the account holder will need to create a new General Power of Attorney document, get it signed and witnessed and give a copy to their branch.

To cancel a General Power of Attorney, either you or the account holder needs to bring a letter confirming the cancellation into one of our branches.

If the attorney goes bankrupt, dies, or loses mental capacity the General Power of Attorney will come to an end. It will also come to an end if the account holder loses mental capacity or dies.

Safeguarding accounts

We may sometimes check transactions where we're concerned about them, such as large withdrawals or where there are a lot of withdrawals in a short space of time. These checks may mean we refuse transactions or contact your account holder about them.

Want to learn more about how we tackle fraud?

Find out more

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Power of Attorney Helpdesk
0800 464 30 18
(Mon to Fri: 9am - 5pm; Sat: 9am - 12pm).