A Power of Attorney – a convenient tool or an indispensable insurance policy?

This article was first published in our March 2019 newsletter

Regular readers of our eNewsletter won’t be surprised to see us revisiting this topic and to try to explain how taking the step of preparing a Power of Attorney can either be a convenient tool or an insurance policy protecting against the unexpected.

There was a time when people would grant a Power of Attorney as a matter of convenience. Such steps were taken when people were, perhaps, travelling extensively or lived abroad but needed someone in Scotland to deal with their affairs – someone they trusted who could sign-off documents and progress business without them having to return to Scotland to deal with it. You can still create a Power of Attorney that’ll deal with this. It can be as specific or as general as you wish – and you can revoke it at any time.

However, what this type of Power of Attorney didn’t cover was the situation where you became unable to deal with your own personal or financial affairs through some form of incapacity and this resulted in the advent of the Financial and/or Welfare Power of Attorney.

This type of Power of Attorney would survive such a situation where the former type of “convenience” Power of Attorney wouldn’t and the purpose of a Financial and/or Welfare Power of Attorney (yes, you can have separate or combined versions of these)is to ensure that should you become incapacitated in such a way that you can no longer look after your financial affairs or your welfare needs (or both) then your attorney can do that for you. In fact, in either case, having a Power of Attorney doesn’t prevent you from looking after your own affairs and you can even specify that a Financial and/or Welfare Power of Attorney doesn’t come into effect unless and until you are incapacitated (if ever)!

There is also myth that suggests that you shouldn’t bother about making a Power of Attorney until you reach old age. Nothing could be further from the truth. Accidents can (and do) happen at any time in your life. Should you become incapacitated as a result of such an accident that prevents you from looking after your own affairs, not only will the lack of a Power of Attorney put enormous pressure on your loved ones who have to look after your needs, they may also be required to make an application for a Guardianship order to legally deal with things for you –  and that can prove time consuming and very expensive.

So, there you have it – from a convenient tool to an indispensable insurance policy – a Power of Attorney is flexible, effective and granting one is probably of the most sensible things you’ll ever do.

If you’d like to discuss granting a Power or Attorney or simply want to know more about it and how it can help you, please get in touch using the details at the bottom of the page.