Power of Attorney – What you need to know.
On National Power of Attorney day, I thought it may be helpful to set out some information on what is involved in having a Power of Attorney put in place and, indeed, why you might consider having one.
Starting with the “why” question first – if a person loses capacity at any point during their lifetime and cannot manage their own affairs (whether that is in relation to their own property/finances or more personal welfare decisions such as medical treatment, care and accommodation etc) then there is no-one with the automatic authority to step in to help.
Some clients hope their spouse/partner/children would be able to manage their affairs in those circumstances but, without a formal appointment (such as an Attorney) then the family will be very limited in what they might be able to do to assist unfortunately. We see this causing additional angst to those loved ones when ideally they wish to be able to help straight away, in what is often already a difficult situation.
An illness or accident can mean that incapacity occurs very suddenly and this can affect individuals at any stage of life, not just an older relative or someone who is unwell.
Having a Power of Attorney in place enables you to appoint a person (or indeed more than one person) to manage your affairs in such circumstances and, provided the Power of Attorney is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland), then they can act straight away if needed – sometimes they can help you with your affairs even where you retain capacity but are perhaps less mobile and unable to undertake certain tasks.
When putting in place a Power of Attorney, you have a choice of who to appoint, although given the type of tasks your Attorney can undertake for you and the decisions they might need to make, this is often limited to family/partners/close friends and we can discuss your options and who would be best placed to act on your behalf. You can have a different Attorney manage your property/financial affairs (known as your “Continuing Attorney”) than would look after your more personal Welfare decisions (known as your “Welfare Attorney”), although they are often the same people and we can keep you right about your options.
We aim to make the process of putting in place a Power of Attorney as straight forward as possible for clients and would look to arrange an appointment to take instructions and answer any questions you may have on the process with a view to preparing a draft Power of Attorney for consideration/discussion. This is the document which sets out the details of your Attorneys and the powers they would have and, once approved by you, is signed in the presence of either a solicitor or doctor as they complete a “certificate of capacity” confirming you have capacity at the time of signing the document and we can see you in person or arrange a video call for that purpose.
We would then attend to the documentation that requires to be signed by your Attorneys to confirm they are happy to act for you and thereafter arrange for your Power of Attorney to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland)
Should you have any queries on Powers of Attorney or related matters then please do get in touch with me by email or call on 01463 239393.
Author: Scott Dallas