Clients often tell us they are reluctant to make an application for guardianship of a vulnerable relative or friend as they have heard the process is expensive and could cost thousands of pounds. In fact, everyone who applies for Welfare or Financial and Welfare Guardianship in Scotland is automatically entitled to Legal Aid from the Scottish Legal Aid Board, regardless of their financial circumstances.
What is Legal Aid?
Legal Aid provides help with the cost of court actions. Usually, a financial assessment is carried out but this is not required in applications for Welfare, or Financial and Welfare Guardianship.
Legal Aid covers the cost of all meetings and correspondence in connection with the court application, including:-
- preparation of the Summary Application
- preparation of the medical reports and Mental Health Officer's report
Legal Aid does not cover the cost of initial advice or the cost of applying for Legal Aid.
Do I have to pay for initial advice?
The cost of initial advice may be covered under the Legal Aid Board's Advice and Assistance scheme. A financial assessment is carried out to determine eligibility, but this is based on the adult's finances (i.e. the person you are applying for guardianship of).
To qualify for Advice & Assistance, the adult must:-
- have capital (i.e. money in the bank, shares)
- aged under 60 - of less than £1,716
- aged over 60 - capital up to £25,000 can be disregarded depending on the adult's income AND
- income of less than £245 per week
- certain benefits (including State Pension and Disability Living Allowance) are disregarded in calculating the adult's weekly income
Legal Aid can only be offered by firms which are registered with the Scottish Legal Aid Board. If yours is not registered, they should make you aware of your automatic entitlement to Legal Aid for Welfare and Financial and Welfare Guardianship applications and give you the opportunity to consult a firm who are able to offer Legal Aid.
Our firm is registered with the Legal Aid Board and we always advise clients of the availability of Legal Aid for Welfare and Financial and Welfare Guardianship applications. We are also able to offer Advice and Assistance to cover the cost of the initial work.
If you wish further advice on Legal Aid for guardianship applications, please contact us.