Power of Attorney

What you ought to consider about the role of Power of Attorney in Scotland?

Nothing is certain in this world. That includes our health and wealth. Today I’m not talking just about financial health. Instead I’m talking about the vulnerability of mental and physical health as well as managing your financial affairs.

It remains very common to meet clients of all backgrounds who either do not have a will and/or do not have a Power of Attorney in place. They may have set up a Will but haven’t looked at it recently to ensure it is keeping pace with their changing lives.

It’s not my place to discuss the legal aspects and advise clients in this area but I value the trusted relationship I’ve developed with my clients and value the importance of protecting their assets. That’s why I urge them to seek expert advice from a legal specialist.

Without a doubt discussing a Power of Attorney is a difficult conversation to have with anyone. However, the earlier the better. It not only ensures the smooth running of bill payments and general financial affairs but most importantly grants peace of mind for all involved.

What is a Power of Attorney (PoA)?

In layman’s terms, The Power of Attorney is legally trusted person that either helps with decision making or manages all the health and wealth affairs on behalf of someone without the mental or physical capacity to do so (temporarily or lasting). We are all living longer and the chance of some form of incapacity increases with the longevity.

It’s worth noting a Power of Attorney is not a Will and will not affect matters related to circumstances after death.

When is the right time to set up a Power of Attorney?

Making provision for the future is something that young and old should talk about as early as possible.

A sudden illness or accident can have life changing consequences and the inability to make decisions related to health and finance can exacerbate an already highly stressful situation for all concerned.

Leaving it too late could involve an expensive Court petition to appoint a Financial Guardian. Unfortunate circumstances out with a client’s control recently involved a Court Petition.  It cost £7,500 (including legal fees, independent assessments and VAT) to seek a Continuing PoA under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2010. The average lawyer would charge probably no more than several hundred pounds for a PoA, considerably less than £7,500!

This is just a salutary lesson why addressing this and seeking advice sooner rather than later is the way forward.  Discussing Power of Attorney can be a difficult conversation to have within the family. An important one nonetheless.

Things you should ask a Power of Attorney expert?

  • Which type of Power of Attorney structure suits the level of access required?
  • What are the responsibilities of the Power of Attorney?
  • When is the right time to instruct the Power of Attorney?
  • Do I need to speak to a GP?

How much will advice cost?

If you are concerned about how much it will cost, don’t be. There is free advice and information readily available and I’ve listed some useful sites below to get you started.

This list is by no means exhaustive but if you pick one and it will help provide clarity and peace of mind.

At Murrison & Wilson we work closely with financial institutions and lawyers and we’re more than happy to recommend one of our trusted partners. Just give us a call on 0141 290 0262

If you would like advice on Tax Planning for the future you can call us on 0141 290 0262 or email info@muwca.co.uk

Best regards

Bruce Wilson

Tax Expert

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