My Power of Attorney – Start the Conversation with family and friends

My Power of Attorney is a national campaign encouraging everyone to consider seriously whether they need, or need to give someone, the legal powers that Power of Attorney provides. The campaign is designed to get members of the public to “Start the conversation” with loved ones to ensure their wishes can be respected if they should find themselves in a situation where they no longer have the capacity to make welfare or financial decisions for themselves.

Every year thousands of people across Scotland lose capacity – it could be an accident, a head injury, a stroke or an ongoing progressive illness. The only way you can plan for your future is to appoint someone with Power of Attorney. Power of Attorney is a written, legal document that gives someone of your choosing (your Attorney) authority to act on your behalf.

To help start the conversation in Stanley, Valerie Nelson, of Perth & Kinross Council Learning and Development team, spoke about Power of Attorney and Guardianship (for when someone is no longer able to look after their affairs and there is no Power of Attorney) at an open event in June 2015. We heard also from Mike Baillie, Stanley Development Trust, who has guardianship for an elderly family friend. 

It’s recommended that you make a Power of Attorney when you are still very able and able to choose who you want to act as your Attorney and to determine the powers that you want them to have.

In Scotland, under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000, Power of Attorney has 2 strands: welfare (personal welfare) and financial (money and property). Both can be done at the same time. Financial Power of Attorney is also known as ‘continuing’ because it carries right through the person’s life. The welfare part can be used only when the adult is incapable. The law is different in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. So, depending on where the person wishing to appoint an Attorney lives, the Power of Attorney will need to be drawn up under the relevant legislation.

Ways to find out more about Power of Attorney and about being an Attorney:

  • Visit the campaign website
  • Approach a solicitor, particularly one who specialises in Power of Attorney. Search the Law Society of Scotland website
    • A Power of Attorney costs around £300
    • Can get Legal Aid, if eligible
  • Do it yourself, but there is a cost to verify your capacity to grant one and to register it with the Office of the Public Guardian.

Guardianship is more complicated to arrange and is granted by a Sheriff for a set period and can be renewed at the Sheriff’s discretion.

Thanks to Valerie and Mike for their excellent, informative talks and to Fiona Matthews, Alzheimer Scotland, and Audra Webster, NHS Tayside Healthy Communities for their help with the session.