There is a straight forward way of ensuring that your affairs are looked after properly in the unforeseen event of incapacity through accident or ill health, and that is by means of a power of attorney.
What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a formal document. It allows you to appoint a trusted person or persons to help you manage your affairs if ever you are unable to manage them on your own. This person is called an “attorney”
How much does it cost?
Blair Cadell charges £300.00 + VAT for completing a power of attorney*. A charge of £77.00 is currently made by the Scottish Court and Tribunal Service to register each power of attorney.
If you are considering granting a power of attorney, please contact one of our personal legal experts for an informal chat.
*standard documentation only, charges may increase in more complex cases.
How long does the power of attorney process take?
Depending on your requirements and provided your instructions are available on request, a power of attorney should not take more than a few weeks to complete. To be effective, the completed document requires to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland). The registration timescale varies, but usually takes about twelve weeks. In cases of urgency, these timescales can be greatly reduced.
Do I need a power of attorney?
Preparing a power of attorney is about planning for something that might (or might not) happen in the future.
It’s therefore difficult to say that anybody will definitely need a power of attorney; what is clear is that everybody might need one. In some respects a power of attorney is similar to an insurance policy – people insure their house not because they expect it to be destroyed by fire, but to guard against the possibility that it might be. A power of attorney can sometimes be a vitally important “insurance policy” to have in place.
A power of attorney is the only way of ensuring that your affairs will be dealt with by someone of your choosing, whom you trust, in times when – for whatever reason – you are unable to look after them yourself. If you haven’t granted a power of attorney, no one will have that authority unless they are given it by a Court. If no power of attorney has been granted in their favour, your spouse, civil partner or co-habitee will have no legal authority to help you when you most need help.
Type of power of attorney
An attorney might help to deal with your financial and business affairs. Some examples are opening a bank account, paying bills, arranging insurance. An attorney who deals with financial and business affairs is sometimes called a “continuing attorney” or “financial attorney”.
Your attorney might also be given authority to help with more personal matters. For example, many people wish to give their attorney authority to consent to medical treatment on their behalf if they are unable to do so. An attorney who deals with these more personal things is sometimes called a “welfare attorney”
Most commonly, an attorney is appointed to deal with both financial/business matters and more personal things.
When would a power of attorney be used?
It is up to you to decide when your power of attorney would be used. As the person who grants the power, you have the discretion to decide when and in what circumstances your attorney may act on your behalf.
People can need help with their affairs in a wide variety of situations – perhaps a temporary hospital stay makes dealing with day-to-day finances difficult, or an absence abroad means that it is convenient to have someone here “on the spot” to act on their behalf.
Many people want to grant a power of attorney so that it can be used when they are unable – either temporarily or for a more prolonged period of time - to manage their own affairs as a result of a physical or mental incapacity.
Who should I appoint as my attorney?
You should appoint someone whom you trust, who knows you well and who will be able to make informed decisions about your affairs. Powers to deal with personal affairs are usually granted in favour of a close relative or friend. Business/financial powers are also often granted in favour of a relative or friend; sometimes a solicitor is also appointed to give help with financial and business matters.
You can appoint more than one person to be your attorney. You can also appoint substitute attorneys to act in the event that one or more of your original attorneys is unable to act.
There's a lot of information here to digest. If you have any further questions on how a power of attorney works and whether or not you need one, get in touch now.