Guide to setting up a power of attorney
You’ve probably heard the words ‘power of attorney’ and immediately dismissed it as something your 84-year-old grandma needs. That’s just not true though! Power of attorney (known also as a lasting power of attorney) is something everyone should have, particularly if you’re married or living with a partner. Maybe you’re in your 20s and think you’re too young for a power of attorney. Or perhaps you have parents in their 60s or 70s who don’t have a power of attorney? Whatever your circumstances, East Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau can help all local residents to set up a power of attorney.
What exactly is a power of attorney?
It sounds a bit scary, but it’s just a legal document which gives somebody else the power to make decisions on your behalf, if you’re unable to do so. If you’re in an accident and no longer have capacity to make decisions, your attorney will step in.
Why do you need it?
A power of attorney in Scotland ensures somebody will always be available to make decisions about your affairs. You might think your next of kin would step in if you’re injured or ill. This isn’t an automatic right though. It’s likely your partner or family would have to go through a complex legal process to be granted this right! A power of attorney isn’t a will. It doesn’t impact what happens after you die. Instead it ensures a trusted friend or relative will be able to manage your affairs if you’re unable to.
What sort of things should you think about?
There are three options when it comes to setting up a power of attorney. East Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau can talk you through these. We’ll help you decide which works best for you.
You might want a Continuing Power of Attorney. This is where your attorney (the person you choose) oversees your financial affairs. For example, things like how you manage your money, or whether to buy or sell property on your behalf.
Or perhaps a Welfare Power of Attorney is a better choice. Here your attorney has the power to make decisions on your health and welfare. This could include things like where you live, what you eat and what will happen to your pets.
You can also choose to set up a combined power of attorney, which gives the power to make decisions about your health/welfare and your finances.
Who should you choose?
Being an attorney is a lot of responsibility. It’s important to choose the right person to appoint and we can offer advice on this. You might want to appoint your partner, husband or wife, or a friend, relative or your solicitor. The person you choose must be over 16 and can’t be bankrupt. Whoever you choose, sit them down for a chat about what will be involved. Or make an appointment with us at and bring them with you! We’ll answer any questions you have.
How do you set up a power of attorney?
If you’re planning on writing your own power of attorney, we can help you. You’ll need a certificate from your doctor or solicitor stating you have mental capacity to understand the powers you’re granting. You can ask your solicitor to look over the document too, if you like. However, many people prefer to use a solicitor to draw up their power of attorney.
Whichever option you choose, your power of attorney will need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
What if somebody has asked you to be their attorney?
It’s a big commitment so you need to be sure you understand what you’re signing up for. East Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau is here to offer free, unbiased advice about setting up a power of attorney. Get in touch today for advice or drop into our outreach centres to get answers to all your questions.