Today is the first ever national Power of Attorney day in Scotland. This is part of a campaign by Health and Social Care Scotland to raise awareness of Powers of Attorney and encourage people to seriously consider if they require one.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document appointing someone to make decisions on your behalf in relation to your welfare and finances. The decisions could be about day-to-day things such as paying a bill‚ or they could be more important decisions such as whether you should have a certain type of medical treatment.
These powers would generally only take effect should you become unable to make these decisions for yourself, however it is possible to customise your Power of Attorney to allow someone to make decisions in relation to your finances as soon as the document is registered.
What if I don’t have a Power of Attorney?
In the event that you lose capacity, and no Power of Attorney is in place, then someone would require to proceed with a lengthy court procedure to be appointed as your Guardian.
A Guardianship application can be made to the court, and must be accompanied by two medical reports and a suitability report, usually prepared by a Mental Health Officer. It is important that all necessary powers are requested in the application. There is then a formal court appearance before a Sheriff who shall decide if the individual should be appointed, what powers they should have, and for how long.
A Guardianship application is a lengthy process, which can take several months to obtain. You would have to ask the Court for temporary powers to deal with any urgent issues whilst the full application is pending which may or may not be granted.
Creating a Power of Attorney now is a quick and simple way to ensure that your affairs can be dealt with by someone you trust.
Who can act as my attorney?
You are free to choose who you want to be your attorney, such as a family member, friend or a professional such as a solicitor. This should be a person that you would trust to handle your affairs.
How many attorneys can I have?
You can also appoint multiple attorneys, but you must specify whether you would want your attorneys to act in unison or whether you would permit each attorney to act separately from the rest.
We would recommend that you have at least one attorney, and one backup attorney.
How can I create a Power of Attorney?
Our solicitors keep the process of creating a Power of Attorney very simple. The document is drafted which names who you wish to appoint as your attorney, what powers they will have, and when the powers would take effect. The document is then signed in the presence of one of our solicitors, and sent to the Office of the Public Guardian for registration.
Our solicitors are able to visit you at your home in the event that you are unable to attend one of our offices.
If you wish to prepare a Power of Attorney, or would like to obtain further information, then get in touch with our Private Client team.