Power of Attorney Day: Seven POA myths Busted

While many of us have heard about Power of Attorney, there are still a number of misconceptions surrounding the legal document.

Power of Attorney, otherwise known as POA, is associated with the elderly and the wealthy, but the truth is that
anyone over the age of 18 can arrange for someone else to make decisions for them when the time comes.

A Power of Attorney in Scotland is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, if you’re no longer able to or if you no longer want to make your own decisions.

Putting in place a Power of Attorney can give you peace of mind that someone you trust is in charge of your affairs.

At Watermans, we have a very experienced team of solicitors who can assist with the winding up of an estate in Scotland and of how to fill in lasting power of attorney forms.

We’ll also give you advice on who can apply for Power of Attorney.

Our solicitor Shawn Wood is here to dispel the myths on Power of Attorney Day 2019 so that people will have a better understanding of the importance of this simple legal document.

He said: “It’s hugely important to have a POA in place as it ensures that a person can assist with your affairs ona temporary or permanent basis.

“Without a POA, a friend or relative would need to seek a Court Order to have authority to deal with your finances
and or/welfare. This is a lengthy and costly process and is easily avoided if a POA is put in place. We have an experienced legal team at WL who would be delighted to discuss POA with you in more detail. Please contact our office for more information.”

Our Wills, Trusts & Succession team at Watermans have put together a guide to some common myths surrounding the topic of Powers of Attorney.

Myth 1 – “I’ll lose control of my finances”

This is not the case. The granter of a POA retains full control of their finances. The Attorney is only there to assist if need be. They should appoint someone they trust to deal with their affairs, but can amend the POA at any time (i.e add/remove an attorney) providing they have capacity.

Myth 2 – “ The POA may never be used”

One myth about the POA is that the document will sit somewhere in a drawer and never be used. However having a POA will give you peace of mind knowing it’s there to be used if need be (even for a short period of time).

Myth 3 –  “I’m too young to think about POA”

This is definitely not the case. In an ideal world, everyone would have a POA. Age is no barrier.

A POA lasts a lifetime so no harm in preparing it at a younger age. Any person at any age can lose capacity. It can also be used if someone is living abroad but some of their affairs need to be dealt with at home. Anyone over the age of 18 can have a POA – and they should.

Myth 4 – “My relative has dementia and therefore doesn’t have capacity to grant a POA”

This is not always the case. Dementia is an illness which progresses in stages. It doesn’t automatically mean that the person loses capacity. Most people with dementia in the early stages have capacity to grant a POA providing they understand the implication of signing the document.

Myth 5 “A doctor will need to assess whether I have capacity before signing”

Doctors do not need to be involved in this process and we have experience of establishing whether a client has the capacity to grant a POA. We can attend people’s homes, care home, hospital, or wherever is most suitable, to make it as easy as possible for people.

Myth 6 – “A POA is a Will or forms part of a Will.”

This is not the case. They are separate documents. A POA operates during lifetime and a Will is active upon death.

Myth 7  ­- “A POA ends on death of the granter and cannot be used after date of death.”

Many people wonder ‘can a Power of Attorney be used after death?’ Watermans have had a few clients recently who have still been using a POA after the death of the granter to deal with finances.

If the banks knew about the death, they would not allow the POA to be used. A POA dies with the granter and the Will then becomes active which allows the Executor of a Will to deal with any assets/liabilities of the deceased (and not the Attorney – unless it’s the same person who has been appointed as both Attorney & Executor).

To find out more about Powers of Attorney or Will-writing services, contact our team on 0131 555 7055, or by using the form below.

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Our wills, trusts and succession expert

“I’m regularly told that I don’t seem like the average solicitor – and that makes me happy. Who aspires to be average? What makes me different is that I put myself in my client’s shoes and aim to find solutions to their needs and situations. I work side by side with them to ensure that we achieve the best outcome possible.“

Scott Whyte, Managing Director