For many of us, reaching advanced age or facing a period of infirmity can cause extreme stress and worry. There are many matters which require attention throughout life, and becoming incapacitated through age or illness can rob you of the ability to handle them. From financial to health matters, there’s a lot that needs to be considered and often daily. Decisions related to them may need to be made quickly and with confidence which can be difficult to do when your health has taken a turn for the worse.
A power of attorney can help provide safety and security for those times of your life when you’re unable to attend to these matters. You may have not heard of a power of attorney before or you may simply need more information on the types of power of attorney in Scotland. Read on to learn more about this legal document, what it means for you, and which version might be the best option for you.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that grants another person, the ‘attorney’, powers over certain defined aspects of your life. This is a way of making sure that important decisions are still made if you lose capacity at some point in your life, commonly for illness or age-related reasons.
The leeway given with a power of attorney can vary widely, the attorney can be restricted over the areas in which they can make decisions for you or this can apply to more areas of your life. It depends on how much assistance you can foresee yourself needing and the types of matters you will need help with.
Whilst infirmity and old age are the two most common reasons a power of attorney is implemented, there are many other reasons that you could see one out, including but not restricted to:
- ongoing impairing mental health issues
- communication issues following a stroke or other impairment
- learning difficulties
- being out of the country for an extended period
- making decisions that aren’t in one’s best interest
The two most important things to remember when setting up a power of attorney are to make sure that it’s completed and signed before any infirmity sets in and to ensure that the person you select is well-versed in the assistance you’ll need.
Power of attorney documents aren’t for everyone and in many cases aren’t needed, but if you can foresee a situation for your life where important matters will need looking after and you may be unable to do so yourself, a power of attorney may give you peace of mind.
It is important to note that a power of attorney differs from a will in several key areas, the most important being that a will only takes effect once you have passed whereas a power of attorney looks after your wishes during your life. If you are looking for assistance writing a will, our comprehensive page on will writing can assist you.
Types of Power of Attorney in Scotland
In Scotland there are three types of power of attorney that can get you the legal support you need should you be incapacitated. These are:
Continuing Power of Attorney
A continuing power of attorney focuses on financial affairs, potentially including any property you own. By granting a continuing power of attorney your specified attorney will gain the legal powers to administer to the following areas of your financial life:
- the collection of any money due to you
- administration of bank or building society accounts
- they will have access to your financial information
- can buy and sell investments, including property
- will be able to enter contracts on your behalf
- can bring or defend legal actions
- give gifts, financial or otherwise
A continuing power of attorney can take effect when you are incapacitated or, should you wish it, can take effect at any point. Once it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland your power of attorney will take effect using the criteria you specify.
Welfare Power of Attorney
A welfare power of attorney differs from a continuing power of attorney in that it concerns itself mainly with matters of health and quality of life. These tend to come into effect when you are affected by a long-term illness or a disability, giving your attorney the power to help make decisions regarding your healthcare.
Your nominated attorney will gain powers that allow them to administer to the following areas of your life, amongst others:
- your daily routine, such as dressing, eating, washing
- any medical care you require
- can make decisions about where you should live
In addition, the attorney can also make decisions related to your quality of life, such as in the following areas:
- new clothes or haircuts
- decorating your home
- getting extra support to allow you to leave your home more easily
You will also find that the attorney has the ability to say no to certain things, such as being able to refuse treatment. When the welfare power of attorney is created, you can specify what treatments, if any, you wish to have refused.
Combined Power of Attorney
The most common power of attorney in Scotland is the combined power of attorney. This mixes both the welfare and continuing power of attorney types into one.
Like the other two types of power of attorney, this can be effective immediately after signing or can come into effect later, using what is known as a springing clause. This springing clause defines a situation or time where the PoA will come into effect, if you become too ill to manage your affairs, for example.
With a combined power of attorney, your designated attorney will have both financial and health-related matters to attend to on your behalf. You can designate up to four people to act as your attorney should they be required, meaning this responsibility can be split amongst several people. We would always recommend seeking legal advice before creating a combined power of attorney, or any other power of attorney, along with choosing attorneys that you implicitly trust to act on your behalf.
Finding Power of Attorney Help in Scotland
If you are in Scotland and you are seeking assistance in creating a power of attorney either for the current situation or for the future, we recommend getting in touch with us to discuss your requirements. Our staff and solicitors have the experience you need to get your power of attorney drafted according to your exact wishes and are able to respond quickly to your enquiry.
Get in touch with Neil Kilcoyne & Co. Solicitors today, and we’ll be more than happy to help you prepare for the future with confidence.