Monday, 14 May 2018
At Stevenson & Marshall we actively encourage all of our clients to grant Powers of Attorney. Here are 5 of the most common misconceptions that we seek to dispel:-
Anyone over the age of 16 can grant a Power of Attorney in Scotland. We firmly believe that you are never too young to consider granting Power of Attorney. We consider it to be just as important a document as a Will in terms of your lifetime legal planning. Sadly, unexpected life events such as serious illness or accidents can occur at any time. If a Power of Attorney is already in place then this can considerably ease matters for loved ones. If people leave it too late and are too unwell to grant Power of Attorney then it is necessary to obtain a Guardianship order from the court which is a much more complex, lengthy and expensive process.
Your spouse/civil partner does not have any legal authority to handle your affairs without a valid Power of Attorney in their favour. Unless they are a joint account holder with you then banks will not allow them to operate your accounts. ISA accounts must be held in an individual’s sole name along with other investments and pension arrangements. Matters can therefore become complicated very quickly for your spouse without a Power of Attorney.
Your Will is an entirely separate document to Power of Attorney. Power of Attorney is a document giving someone authority during your lifetime whereas your Will only takes effect on death. Executors have no legal authority to deal with your affairs in your lifetime.
Even the most simple of situations can become complex without a Power of Attorney. For example, querying a phone bill, renewing a home insurance policy, claiming a state benefit – none of these can be done on someone else’s behalf without a Power of Attorney. Even if your financial affairs are straight forward, there is also the welfare aspects of Power of Attorney to consider. Appointing a welfare Attorney ensures you have someone in place to make important decisions such as the appropriate medical treatment and type of care you should receive. Without a Welfare Power of Attorney in place then if you are unable to make these decisions a Welfare Guardianship will need to obtained from the court and sometimes the Local Authority may step in to make decisions on your behalf.
If you do not have anybody that you would be comfortable granting Power of Attorney in favour of then you can appoint professionals as Financial Power of Attorney. At Stevenson & Marshall we run a number of Financial Powers of Attorney on behalf of our clients, giving them peace of mind that their affairs are being looked after by a trusted professional.
If you would like to discuss Powers of Attorney then please contact one of our Lifetime Legal team on 01383 721141.