You can still plan your Power of Attorney during Covid-19 restrictions
As always, we recommend speaking to a solicitor in the first place and at this time it is vital to get your PoA setup correctly.
Alison Hempsey is a leading Power of Attorney solicitor working for TC Young across the West of Scotland. In this special series of videos, recorded under Covid-19 restrictions, Alison explains some of the key points you should consider. Start planning today and get the help you need.
Video Transcripts: Why setup a power of attorney now?
Power of attorney is important at any time for all of us, but I think the current situation probably has focused people’s minds a little bit more around getting their affairs in order and power-of-attorney is a very important part of all of that. Without a power-of-attorney, nobody can make any decisions or take any legal action on your behalf. At the moment where people may be relying on perhaps family members to help them out because they’re not able to leave the house, then power-of-attorney can be a very important tool in all of this particularly on the financial side. You can set the power-of-attorney up to allow people to make decisions for you even while you still have capacity so, for example, if you’re not able to get out and do your banking and attend to your financial affairs, then perhaps a younger family member might be able to assist you with that. You may wish to consider granting them power-of-attorney to make sure they have the proper legal authority to do it. The other perspective is that should you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself, whether that’s for a temporary period or a longer period, the power of attorney would allow someone that you trust to step in and make those decisions whether it be financial or welfare on your behalf.
How to Start a Power of Attorney:
The Adults with Incapacity Act sets out and specifies persons who are permitted to certify a power of attorney in Scotland. Those are: practising solicitors or advocates or practising medical professionals. I can’t see that going to your GP at this time is going to be an option in terms of having the power-of-attorney certified, so the best place to get started is to make contact with your own solicitor. If you already have one, ascertain with them if they are actually able to do this )power of attorney process) remotely. If you don’t already have an existing solicitor it is probably a good idea to go onto the Law Society of Scotland website and you are able to search there for solicitors that might be local to you and able to help you with this.
Setting up a Power of Attorney in Scotland during Covid-19 restrictions:
At the moment the usual form of setting up a power-of-attorney whereby clients would visit solicitors, meet with them usually on at least a couple of occasions, that obviously isn’t possible at the moment. The good thing is though, that we do have technology available to us which still allows people to complete their power of attorney if that is what they decide they want to do. The Law Society of Scotland has updated its guidance in relation to how solicitors can certify a power-of-attorney remotely and it allows the solicitors to speak with clients via various different forms of video call.
They are able to effectively meet with you remotely, satisfy themselves that you have sufficient capacity to understand what is involved with the power-of-attorney and to understand the extent of the powers that are being granted. It’s particularly convenient and appropriate in circumstances where the solicitor knows the client already. Where it becomes more complicated is if it’s a brand-new client who perhaps has an underlying diagnosis which makes the remote meeting and the remote discussion a little bit more difficult.
Cost of Power of Attorney in Scotland (during Covid-19):
There shouldn’t be any additional cost to clients because we are doing the meetings remotely- it is still the same process that’s involved and probably the same time that’s involved for an individual. You’re probably looking at the cost of somewhere around the region of £250 plus vat and the public guardian‘s office charges a fee to register that is currently £81. In terms of what you should have ready before you get to the point of having a meeting make sure you have the technology available to you to have these discussion. So, if you’ve got access to a laptop a phone or a tablet that allows you to video call, you’ve got your account set up, you share your username with the solicitor so that contact can be mad. You should have full names and addresses of your proposed attorneys so that those can be included on the document when it is prepared. Once it comes to actually signing the power-of-attorney, we are trying to make use of email wherever possible, so it’s helpful if you’re also able to confirm with the solicitor at the time of the initial meeting that you have access to a printer which will enable you to actually print off an emailed version of the power of attorney in advance of the video call.