1. If I can’t make decisions for myself in the future, a family member will be able to do this for me.
Not true. Nobody has an automatic right to make decisions on your behalf if you can no longer do so yourself. In most cases, someone would have to go to court before they could act on your behalf.
2. I don’t want to sign a legal POA document as it won’t be personal to me.
Not true. The very reason why you get a POA is to communicate your wishes, no one else’s. The ‘powers’ written on the document should be completely tailored to you.
3. I have already named an Executor in my Will so they will be able to act for me.
Not true. Having a POA in place is just as important as a Will. However, a Will is only relevant after you have died and so an Executor can only step in when this has happened. An Executor would not be able to make any decisions on your behalf while you are still alive.
4. I have already told my family what I’d want if anything was to happen to me. They have said that they will make sure that my opinions are heard so I don’t need anything formal.
Not true. Even if the people that you trust the most are aware of what you would want, they will not be able to act on your behalf if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. You need to have a POA in place in advance.
5. I don’t own my house or have a large amount of money so I don’t need anyone to manage this on my behalf.
Not true. It is important for any person to get a POA - no matter what their circumstances are. If something happens in the future that causes you to become unable to handle your finances (such as payment of bills or benefit entitlements), someone would have to step in to do this on your behalf. POA allows for this to be the person you would want.
6. My mum wants me to be her Attorney but I don’t feel able enough to do it. I live far away from her and have health problems. Whenever she mentions it I feel guilty, but I know I will have to go ahead with it as I am her closest family member.
Not true. Being an Attorney is a very big responsibility. You should not take this on unless you feel completely comfortable with what it involves. If you do not feel confident that you could formally act on someone else’s behalf, do not agree.
7. The costs of having a solicitor draw it up will be far too high.
Not necessarily. The Office of the Public Guardian Scotland (OPG) do charge a fee to register the POA with them which everyone has to pay. However, you can write the document yourself if you follow the specific guidelines and seek advice - which is available for free.
If you decide to see a solicitor, you may be eligible for all or some of the costs to be covered through ‘legal advice and assistance’ from the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB). If you do not qualify for this, always ask up front what it will cost. The expense of not doing anything could be much higher as court fees can be very expensive.
8. There is nobody in my family I could trust with the responsibility so I can’t get one.
Not true. Family members have no automatic right to be your Attorney and you should pick the person you trust most. For example, this could be a friend who you have known for a long time. You could also choose a solicitor or accountant, but they would charge a fee to act on your behalf.