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The function of a Power of Attorney in the coronavirus pandemic

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.

Our team at The McKinstry Company are available to assist you despite the current circumstances, offering free half-hour telephone and video consultations to discuss your concerns. You can get in touch with us by calling 01292 281711 or by completing the online enquiry form, and one of our lawyers will get back to you as soon as possible.

Power of Attorney in Ayrshire, Scotland

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.

Continuing Power of Attorney amid the coronavirus

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).

Welfare Power of Attorney

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.

Best practices for Power of Attorney process during COVID-19

Under current laws, a Power of Attorney  the granter must 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:

  1. Your chosen lawyer will provide you with the Power of Attorney document either by post or sent as a PDF through email.
  2. The granter should not sign the document before the virtual interview has occurred.
  3. During the interview, the granter must prove to their solicitor that the document is unsigned through the video conferencing call.
  4. All standard requirements are to be fulfilled as normal when the interview takes place.
  5. Following standard protocol, if your lawyer is satisfied that the document can be properly certified, then you should sign the document and a witness, if you have one, should also sign. The signed copy of the document should then be shown to your lawyer via video technology.
  6. You will then be instructed to return the signed hard copy to your solicitor as promptly as possible.

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 signed 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.

Get in touch with our Power of Attorney Solicitors in Ayrshire & Dumfries and Galloway

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 01292 281711 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 07/05/2020 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.

Ayr Sandgate

Queen’s Court House
39 Sandgate
Ayr, Ayrshire
KA7 1BE

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Girvan

146-148 Dalrymple Street
Girvan, Ayrshire
KA26 9BQ

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We’re still open for business.

Our team of solicitors and support staff are still here for you. However we have postponed any face to face meetings, restricting communications to telephone, Skype and email. You can contact the Ayr office on 01292 281711 and the Girvan office on 01465 713118