Making decisions is part of everyday life; from where we go when we step out the front door to who comes to visit us in our homes. You rarely consider a time where these choices will be made for you, and yet, the measures implemented as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis have left us all incapable of planning our next move.
While many are likely to feel unsettled and anxious during this time, it is important to focus on areas of your life which you can control. A Power of Attorney is a fantastic tool which provides you with the power to act early and be in charge of what happens to you.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that lets you (the granter) appoint one or more people (the attorney) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.
While setting up a Power of Attorney can give you more control over what happens if you lose mental capacity, in times such as these, it may also help with the disruption to your daily life if you are isolating or fall seriously ill.
One type of Power of Attorney which can be very useful during the current crisis is a Continuing Power of Attorney. This would allow you to grant the person of your choosing the power to control your finances. These powers can include payment of bills and access to your bank accounts.
Following the government’s daily briefings, the British public has been instructed to stay at home unless necessary and told that venturing outside could put lives at serious risk. If you are part of the ‘high risk’ category and are currently in isolation, a distinct advantage of having a Continuing Power of Attorney means your financial matters can be dealt with without leaving your house and it can be activated as soon as it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
If you are looking to protect yourself entirely and ensure decisions about your future health are based on what you want, a Welfare Power of Attorney is crucial. A Welfare Power of Attorney is used to make medical and welfare decisions and is activated when the granter loses capacity. It can cover life-sustaining treatment down to your daily routine.
Nobody expects to be in a position where they cannot make their own decisions, however, the coronavirus has put a global spotlight on how suddenly our own powers can be taken away from us. With the lockdown now extended for at least another three weeks, spend this time to get prepared for all eventualities.
You can read more about the requirements of setting up a Power of Attorney in Scotland by clicking here.
Under current laws, a Power of Attorney must be witnessed by an independent adult in Scotland. The granter must also be interviewed by a solicitor or doctor for the document to be valid.
The Law Society of Scotland (LSS) has been looking at ways solicitors can continue to fulfil their obligations under Section 15, 16 and 16A of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000. Following approval from the OPG, this six-step procedure could be adopted to satisfy legislative requirements:
REMEMBER - Please be aware that a photocopy or scanned copy will not be accepted. Under sections 15(3) and 16(3) of the Act, both Continuing and Welfare Power of Attorney are only considered legally valid if it is expressed in a written document subscribed by the granter.
An audio-only call (e.g. a telephone conversation) will not meet legal standards as the lawyer must see the unsigned document before the interview and subscription, in addition to when the Power of Attorney is signed.
For those instructing a solicitor for the first time, the same principles apply as above, although your lawyer will exercise their own judgment as to whether it is appropriate to conduct the entire process of evaluating your capacity and setting up the Power of Attorney without any face-to-face interaction.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights how easily our power to make decisions can be stripped from us at a moment’s notice. With the help of a Power of Attorney, you can ensure that your wishes are followed should you lose any kind of control in your future. Do not delay, get in touch with our Power of Attorney team today on 01738 623432 for continued support through this unprecedented time.
This guide does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If you require specific legal advice you should contact one of our lawyers who can advise you based on your own circumstances.
Please note this information is accurate as of 01/05/20 and is subject to change on a day-to-day basis as we become more aware of how legislation will be adapted due to the virus.