What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a document which gives a trusted person or people legal authority to take action or make decisions on your behalf if there ever comes a time when you are not capable of doing those things yourself. This can cover both your financial affairs and your health and welfare.
Why you should have a Power of Attorney
We all know that the future is uncertain, and in the event that you become diagnosed with a debilitating illness or condition, such as dementia, or are involved in an accident you may require additional help. That might be with everyday tasks such as helping with your finances or dealing with your tax return at a time when you retain legal capacity but could do with the additional support, or it might involve far more wide-reaching decisions about your care and medical treatment if you lose mental capacity.
Powers of Attorney can be used flexibly to support you and allow your family and loved ones to help you in managing your own affairs for as long as you are able. If you ever lose your mental capacity, you can have confidence that people who you trust will have the necessary authority to take decisions for you and look after your interests.
Powers of Attorney can be prepared to deal with both financial and welfare matters. In many cases, your choice of attorney will be the same for both, but that is not always the case, and we can advise fully on that.
Once registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, financial powers can be used as you see fit, but welfare powers can only be used if you have lost mental capacity. In other words, no one can take decisions about your personal welfare until you have lost the ability to take them yourself.
What happens if you can't grant a Power of Attorney?
If you lose mental capacity and do not have a suitable Power of Attorney in place, it may be necessary for your loved ones to petition the Court for a Guardianship Order. That is a protracted and expensive process at what is often a very difficult time and acting as a Guardian also comes with additional duties and administrative requirements.
An appropriate Power of Attorney should ensure that there is no need for this complication, and you can choose who is best to act on your behalf, rather than leaving it to the Court.
However, if such circumstances do occur, in which you become physically or mentally incapacitated, then our expert team can advise your appointed family member or trusted person on alternative options. In the case that you have a relative who cannot understand their affairs then please contact us as soon as possible.
Benefits that we bring you
Our experienced and personable Private Client team, based in Edinburgh and Glasgow, can support you in ensuring that you have put in place a suitable Power of Attorney to allow your loved ones to assist should you ever be unable to manage your own affairs.
How we can help you:
- Face-to-face or online meetings with our estate planning specialists, to provide full advice and take your instructions
- Preparation and drafting of your Power of Attorney, and a clear and practical explanation of how it operates
- Meeting with you to sign the documents and arranging storage at Morton Fraser.
- Registration of the Power of Attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian if instructed by you.
As well as granting a Power of Attorney, we strongly advise that you draw up a Will. It is recommended that you have both documents in place, as your Power of Attorney will cease once you pass away. Our expert team of lawyers can advise you on all aspects of making a Will to make sure your needs and circumstances are fully met. Visit our Wills page to find out more information.
For information on fee options, please contact a member of our team.