At the start of a New Year, you may be turning your thoughts to putting your affairs in order. As part of this, you should consider granting a power of attorney in Scotland. Read on for our top 5 questions and answers on Powers of Attorney.
1. What is a Power of Attorney?
- A written legal document giving someone else authority to act on your behalf
- It ensures your financial affairs and personal welfare can be dealt with/protected if you are unable to act yourself, e.g. through illness/as the result of an accident
2. Are Powers of Attorney not just for the elderly?
- No - anyone over the age of 16 can grant a Power of Attorney
- Powers of Attorney can only be granted by those with legal capacity, so the sooner the deed is put in place the better, as accidents or illness can happen to anyone at anytime. The deed can be stored in your solicitor?s safe and registered only when your attorneys need to start acting on your behalf.
3. What is incapacity?
- If you lose capacity it means you are no longer able to look after your own financial and/or personal affairs, perhaps due to illness e.g. dementia or a stroke, or an accident e.g. a head injury
- Once a person loses capacity, they are no longer in a position to grant a Power of Attorney and an application to the court for Financial and Welfare Guardianship will probably be required to enable that person's affairs to be dealt with - this can take up to 6 months to complete
4. Are Powers of Attorney not just for the wealthy?
- No - a Power of Attorney is not just about looking after your financial affairs.
- It also allows you to choose who should decide personal welfare issues, e.g. where you live, who looks after you etc.
5. Can my family act on my behalf without a Power of Attorney?
- No - in Scotland no one has legal authority to act on your behalf, not even your spouse or children, unless you grant a Power of Attorney giving them the appropriate powers.
- Banks, pension providers and medical professionals are becoming increasingly aware of this and will not take instructions from family members/close friends unless they have evidence of that person?s legal authority to act on your behalf.
Should you wish further advice about Power of Attorney in Scotland, please get in touch with our experienced team.