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Choosing a power of attorney

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Choose the right document

A power of attorney is, generally speaking, a document where you give another person (called your 'attorney') the authority to manage your affairs and act on your behalf. There are different types of power of attorney, depending on your location and circumstances. This article is designed to help you choose the correct document if you need a power of attorney for use in Scotland.

If, on the other hand, you need to create a power of attorney for use in England & Wales or Northern Ireland, you should read our article on England & Wales (Choosing a power of attorney) or our article on Northern Ireland (Choosing a power of attorney), as appropriate.

Initial questions

The first question that you need to ask yourself is whether you want the document to remain valid if you were to lose capacity to make decisions for yourself. Some powers of attorney cannot be used when a person loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves, whilst others are designed to appoint someone to care for you and manage your affairs should you no longer have the capacity to do so yourself, due to an illness, accident or the onset of dementia, for example.

If you do not want a power of attorney for the purposes of managing your affairs due to a lack of capacity, you should read our article on General power of attorney. A general power of attorney is designed for use over a limited period of time and cannot be used when a person loses capacity to make decisions for themselves. This document might be useful if, for example, you are leaving the country for a few months and need another person to look after your affairs whilst you are gone.

If you want to put in place a power of attorney for the purpose of authorising someone to manage your affairs in the event that you lose capacity to act for yourself, then continue reading this article to decide which document you need.

What type of power do you need?

If you want to put in place a power of attorney which will remain valid even when you no longer have capacity to act on your own behalf, you need to decide whether you want a power of attorney for someone to look after your financial affairs, your personal welfare or both. The different options are described below.

Financial powers

If you want to appoint another person to look after your financial affairs, e.g. paying bills, buying and selling property, etc., and you want the power to continue even if you lose capacity to manage your affairs yourself, the most appropriate document is the one called a continuing power of attorney.

Personal welfare powers

If you want to appoint another person to look after your personal welfare, i.e. your social and health care needs, and you want this power to come into effect when you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself, you will want to create a welfare power of attorney.

Financial powers and personal welfare powers

Since there is a close connection between making financial and welfare decisions, you may want to create both of these powers (continuing and welfare) at the same time. You can choose to either create these powers separately or using a combined continuing and welfare power of attorney (see link to 'Continuing and welfare power of attorney' below for more information).

More information

If you would like more information on any of these powers of attorney, you should read our articles on these topics. Links to our articles can be found below: