Wills and Probate

Tricky terminology: We explain what it all means

Understanding legal terminology

When it comes to legal documents, are you left bamboozled by all the jargon? Wish it could be simplified for easier digestion?

We know a lot of the terms we refer to can be confusing so we’ve put together a mini terminology guide. It should help you understand some of the common words relating to Powers of Attorney and Deputyship.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

An LPA is a legal document that gives someone you trust, authority to make important decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do so.

There are two types of LPA:

  • Health and welfare: The person creating the LPA can be clear about their medical choices, including daily care or life-sustaining treatment.
  • Property and financial affairs: Lets a trustee manage and act on your behalf regarding your money and property.

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)

EPAs are  only used for finance and property and were replaced by LPAs on 1 October 2007.

EPAs signed and dated before this date are still valid and can be registered with Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) when the donor starts to lose, or has lost, mental capacity.

Mental capacity

Sometimes people reach a point where they can’t make their open decisions. This is known as lacking “mental capacity”.

When this happens, a trusted person – usually a family member – will be appointed to make their decisions.

Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is a legal framework for acting and making decisions on behalf of adults in England and Wales, who can no longer make their own decisions.


This is the person who makes an enduring or lasting power of attorney – called donors because they donate decision-making powers to a trusted person.


This person is the one chosen to act on someone else’s behalf on an EPA or LPA. They are appointed by the donor.


The Court of Protection appoints this person to support someone who lacks the mental capacity to make decisions themselves. This happens if someone loses mental capacity without an LPA in place.

Court of protection

A specialist court makes decisions on financial or welfare matters for people who cannot make decisions for themselves because they lack mental capacity, including handling urgent or emergency applications where a decision must be made on someone’s behalf quickly.


A guardian is appointed for up to four years to act on behalf of a missing person. 


A person who makes use of OPG services, such as donor, attorney, deputy or partner.

Least restrictive action

If a decision is made on behalf of a person who does not have mental capacity, it should ideally be the ‘least restrictive’ option of the person’s basic rights.


If the person making the LPA receives means-tested benefits, they can apply to have the application for free.


If the person making the LPA earns less than £12,000 per year, they can apply for a 50% discount off the application fee.

Need more help?

The legal experts in our Wills, Trusts and Probate team have years of experience and are here to assist you with anything that you are unsure of or wish to discuss in more detail in relation to wills, trusts or probate.

Our Wills, Trusts and Probate Department works out of our Buckshaw Village and Fulwood offices. Those in the team are Zoe Fleming, Anna Kerr, Victoria Harcourt, Nicola Birchall and Rebecca Harrison.

You can contact us on 01772 799 600, whether Fulwood or Buckshaw Village is your nearest office.

Article prepared by Zoe Fleming, head of the Wills, Trusts and Probate Team.


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