Ordinarily, an adult can grant power of attorney to allow someone they trust to deal with their affairs when they're unable to do so themselves. However, a power of attorney can only be granted by an adult who has the full mental capacity to do so.
If someone needs help with their affairs but cannot grant power of attorney, an application can be made to the courts to appoint a guardian. A guardian is someone who can look after the adult's financial, business, personal and medical affairs.
Guardianship is a very complex area of the law. Here's an overview of how it works:
- An application is made to the courts to appoint a guardian
- Various reports are obtained from medical practitioners and social workers
- Further reports may be required where financial assets involved
- The length of the guardianship is determined by the court (usually 3-5 years)
- Once granted, the application must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, which is part of the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service
- Various outlays must be paid by the adult's estate, including a fee to the Public Guardian, an insurance policy (referred to as 'caution') and an annual management fee
If you become someone's guardian:
- The Public Guardian (an official of the Scottish Court and Tribunal Service) will be responsible for supervising your financial actions. You will have to submit detailed annual reports to them.
- The Local Authority will supervise the more personal decisions you make on behalf of the adult.
- The costs of appointing a guardian are generally paid for by the affected adult. In certain circumstances, Civil Legal Aid may be available. The Legal Aid Board has issued guidelines on eligibility.
If you wish to become someone's guardian, we can help. Our solicitors are experienced in arranging guardianships, and we're registered with the Scottish Legal Aid Board, which means we'll be able to help you apply for Civil Legal Aid.