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Do I Need a Power of Attorney?

Do I Need a Power of Attorney?

It is a common misconception that Powers of Attorney are only for the elderly. However, accidents or illness can happen to anyone at any time and it is sensible to give thought to putting a Power of Attorney in place now, as a safety net for the future. Ask yourself the question - do I need a Power of Attorney?

What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document giving someone else authority to act on your behalf should you be unable to do so - this person (or persons - it is preferable to include more than one) is referred to as your attorney.

You can grant your attorney financial powers only, welfare powers only or a combination of both.

Financial powers include:
power to operate bank accounts on your behalf; and
power to deal with property owned by you.

Welfare powers include:
power to decide on appropriate care and accommodation for you; and
power to consent to medical treatment on your behalf.

Who can grant a Power of Attorney?
In Scotland, anyone over the age of 16 can grant a Power of Attorney provided they have mental capacity. This means that you must be capable of understanding what you are doing and expressing your wishes.

Mental capacity can be lost as a result of an illness or accident and that is why we encourage our clients to grant a Power of Attorney sooner rather than later. Once granted, the deed can be held as a "rainy day" document - it may never be needed, but at least you have the comfort of knowing that it is in place should anything happen to you in the future.

What if I don't have a Power of Attorney?
If you lose capacity to make decisions on your own behalf and do not have a Power of Attorney in place, your family/friends would need to apply to the court for a Guardianship order to give them authority to make decisions about your care and accommodation and to deal with your finances. Applying for guardianship is a lengthy process and can cause great distress to families at what is already a difficult time.

What next?
Should you wish further advice on putting a Power of Attorney in place, get in touch with our power of attorney team.

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Written by : Alison Hempsey