Smith & Valentine - Solicitors

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Smith & Valentine - Powers of Attorney- FAQs...

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a document which delegates authority by one person to another to deal with their affairs.

Does this relate only to financial affairs?

No.  There are two separate types of Powers of Attorney, one which deals with administration of a person’s financial affairs, called a continuing Power of Attorney, and the other, called a welfare Power of Attorney, deals with aspects in relation to their care.   A welfare Power of Attorney can only be brought into effect when the granter loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves.  A continuing Power of Attorney relating to administration of financial affairs can be used at any time.

I am perfectly fit and healthy why should I make a Power of Attorney?

Illness can strike suddenly and at any time.  If there is no Power of Attorney in place administration of your affairs may have to be undertaken by a court appointed guardian, that is both expensive and remote as it is unlikely that the guardian appointed will be a member of your family.   A Power of Attorney has to be put in place before it is needed because by the time it is needed it is too late to grant it.  It is always a matter of personal judgement as to when a Power of Attorney is put in place.   Generally speaking this is usually done at a time when people acknowledge that age is catching up with them and that they are slowing down.  However sudden illness or an accident is no respecter of age and a strong case can be made for middle aged or even relatively young people granting Powers of Attorney.

Who should I appoint as my Attorney?

This is a very critical choice.  You will be entrusting your Attorney with the management of your financial affairs so it has to be someone you trust implicitly.  It can be a member of your family or it can be a solicitor.   The advantage of the appointment of a solicitor in respect of financial affairs is that he or she will have an office administration behind them together with the experience and knowledge to deal efficiently with the administration.   Fees will of course be charged for their services.  For welfare Powers of Attorney we feel that these should undoubtedly be granted to either members of family or very close friends.   Rarely is the solicitor client relationship close enough to mean that the solicitor will know the client well enough to make decisions in relation to their personal welfare, care and medical treatment. 

Once I have granted a Power of Attorney can I revoke it?

As long as you retain capacity any Power of Attorney can be revoked by sending an intimation to the Attorney and a copy to The Office of the Public Guardian where the Power of Attorney will have been registered.  It is then possible to grant a Power of Attorney in favour of another party. 

What if I leave it too late to grant a Power of Attorney?

If you lose capacity without having appointed someone to act as your Attorney, an application can be made to the Sheriff Court by your friends or relatives or those concerned in your care to seek the appointment of a Guardian to deal with your affairs generally or for a specific Intervention Order to enable certain necessary steps to be taken such as access to your bank account to pay bills, or to sell property.