This time last year, Scotland had its first ever National Power of Attorney Day on 20 November 2019. A lot has changed since then, but it is still possible to put a power of attorney in place.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document which allows someone to grant powers to a trusted person or persons (their attorneys) to look after their financial affairs and/or their personal welfare. Powers of attorney provide authority to attorneys to manage the granter's affairs in the event that the granter becomes incapable at some point in the future. 

It is essential that the granter has capacity when putting their power of attorney in place. This would traditionally involve meeting with a solicitor at their office or a medical practitioner who would interview the granter and certify their capacity.

Can I put a power of attorney in place in the current circumstances?

Yes! Despite the current circumstances, powers of attorney can still be put in place. 

The Law Society of Scotland issued guidance earlier this year confirming that solicitors can meet with their clients through video calls to go over the document with them and, all being well, to certify their client's capacity. 

Once the power of attorney is fully signed, it can then be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) in the usual way.

Should I put a power of attorney in place now?

We recommend putting powers of attorney in place to clients of all ages. 

By putting a power of attorney in place when you still have capacity, your attorneys will be able to help you manage your affairs and make decisions for you if you lose capacity in the future. If you do not have a power of attorney and you lose capacity, your spouse, civil partner or your children will not have automatic authority to manage your affairs. 

Loss of capacity can arise through medical conditions, but also through unexpected accidents. A power of attorney can also be helpful if you are temporarily unable to return to Scotland which could be particularly relevant in the current circumstances.

You've got the power – act now!

A power of attorney is an effective way of planning what should happen if you lose capacity in the future. 

Notwithstanding everything that has happened since Scotland's first National Power of Attorney Day, you still have the power to put a power of attorney in place!


Fraser Mackay