We recommend that everyone has a power of attorney, regardless of your age, wealth or circumstances. But what is a power of attorney and what are the benefits of having one?

1. It protects your finances and your wellbeing

    A power of attorney allows you to choose someone else to act on your behalf in the event you lose capacity and are unable to look after yourself or your affairs. A power of attorney allows your chosen attorney or attorneys to look after your finances (such as accessing your bank accounts) and make decisions about your care and welfare (such as what kind of hospital treatment you receive). It can only be put in place while you have capacity, which broadly means that (1) you are capable of instructing a solicitor to prepare a power of attorney for you; (2) you understand what the document will do and the extent of the powers you are giving to someone else; and (3) you can remember what your instructions are and what the document does.

    2. You control who your attorneys are and what they can do

      A power of attorney allows you to choose people you trust to look after your affairs and make decisions on your behalf. Your attorneys must adhere to the Office of the Public Guardian's (OPG) Code of Practice. The power of attorney can be challenged if your attorney acts against your best interests.

      A power of attorney also allows you to decide what powers your attorney will have. For example, if the power of attorney does not contain a power to gift, then no gifts can be made by your attorney on your behalf.

      3. It's cost effective and quick to put in place

        If you lose capacity and do not have a power of attorney, someone must apply to the Sheriff Court for a guardianship to be put in place. A power of attorney is quick and easy to put in place. If a guardianship order is needed, it can take around 6-9 months before a guardian is appointed. This can lead to significant costs, delay and uncertainty for your family. 

        4. It comes into effect as soon as it is required

          As soon as the document has been signed and registered with the OPG, it can be used by your attorneys. Once it is registered, and with your consent, your attorneys can make decisions about your finances while you have capacity. This can be useful if, for example, you are abroad and need some assistance looking after your affairs or you need help whilst recovering from a physical illness.

          Your attorneys can only make decisions about your welfare if and when you lose capacity.

          5. It gives you, and your family, peace of mind

            None of us can predict what is around the corner. Having a power of attorney offers peace of mind that if something happens to you, the process is much easier for your family to look after you and your affairs.