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Under embargo until 00.01 on Thursday, 30 September 2021 

Power of Attorney – It’s for people like you

No one wants to be left in limbo should the worst happen, finding themselves suddenly incapacitated – struck down by Covid-19 or other serious illness or accident.

Whether brought about by the pandemic, a dementia diagnosis, mental health issue, traffic accident or injury at work, distressed families, friends and partners frequently discover – to their dismay – that they have no automatic legal rights to direct the medical welfare or financial affairs of a loved one who can no longer make these decisions for themselves. In such cases, a court-appointed Guardian generally steps in to oversee their welfare.

Yet it needn’t be this way. Contrary to urban myth, the only officially recognised way to ensure that a trusted family member or friend is legally empowered to oversee their loved one’s affairs is to have a Power of Attorney (PoA) registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) ahead of time. Anyone aged over 16 years can grant a Power of Attorney, either solely addressing their welfare or financial affairs or combining both in a single document.

This is such a crucial issue, potentially affecting millions of Scots, that Scotland’s health and social care partnerships have come together to actively support and spread the word about Power of Attorney Day 2021 which will take place on 30 September, spearheaded by Health and Social Care Scotland. Multiple partners from the public, private and voluntary sector are on board, including the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland), Scottish Legal Aid Board, the Law Society of Scotland and Alzheimer Scotland with support from carers’ networks and advocacy groups Scotland-wide.

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Key Facts

Under embargo until 00.01 on Thursday, 30 September 2021 

  Power of Attorney isn’t just for older or unwell people. Anyone can be affected at any stage of life to find themselves suddenly incapacitated by an unforeseen illness, accident or other debilitating event

Without a Power of Attorney in place, your family, friends or partner have no legal rights to direct your welfare, or step in to oversee your financial or welfare affairs

There are two types of Power of Attorney – one that grants ‘Welfare powers’ such as issues related to your health, and one for ‘Financial powers’ to manage your money and pay bills. You can choose to grant either power, or both, to your trusted ‘Attorney/s’

 Though lawyers are often involved, some regional carers’ support groups have volunteers to help prepare your Power of Attorney

The Scottish Legal Aid Board can advise whether financial assistance can be made available to people on modest or low incomes who’d prefer to have a solicitor that offers Legal Aid services draw up their Power of Attorney

Having a will in place does not authorise the executors named in your will to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated for any reason, and unable to make decisions regarding your personal welfare or finances

Power of Attorney is a ‘Living Document’ – i.e. it applies during the lifetime of the person authorising its creation. Should that person pass away, all authorisations granted to their Attorney/s come to an end. Power of Attorney does not carry on, after their lifetime, to serve in the place of a will

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