Power of Attorney

Appointing an attorney means that if you become unable to make decisions yourself in the future there’ll be someone there to help. Consulting with an expert and putting a power of attorney in place now can give you peace of mind, knowing that your welfare and financial affairs will be taken care of should the need arise.

Powers of attorney are the mechanisms that allow others to make legally binding decisions for you if you become unable to do this yourself. They can only be granted while you have capacity, which allows you to choose to whom you want to give these powers. Should you lose capacity before appointing someone as your attorney, a guardianship application can be made to the court and the sheriff should appoint an appropriate guardian for you.

This means, if you don’t formally appoint an attorney while capable, there’s a danger that if you lose capacity your appointed guardian may not be the person you would have chosen.

That’s why it’s important to actively appoint someone you trust to make decisions based on what you would want, rather than what a possible stranger may think is best. There’s a distinction between the two and considering who you trust to act exclusively with your intentions in mind is crucial rather than relying on who the court decides to appoint.

You can give your attorney powers covering financial matters, welfare matters or both. The attorney has your authority to step in and make sure your bills are paid and that you get the kind of care you need in the right form for you. The continuing powers over financial matters can be used by your attorney to help you whenever you want. Welfare powers can only be used if you are no longer able to decide things yourself.

Because of the seriousness of granting powers to someone else to use when you may not be able to watch over them, making a power of attorney needs a certain formality. There is, for example, a certificate signed by a solicitor or a doctor to say that they have discussed the document with you, that you have understood its nature and extent and that they are satisfied that you are not acting under undue influence. All of this and our experts’ ongoing advice are here to help you ensure that your best interests will be looked after if you’re no longer able to make decisions yourself.

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If you’d like to hear more about appointing a power of attorney or if you have specific questions, please contact us.

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