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Welfare power of attorney

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Welfare power of attorney

If some day you become incapable of looking after your own personal welfare, i.e. your health care and social needs, a welfare power of attorney will ensure that these needs are taken care of by the attorney(s) you appoint. Your welfare attorney will have the legal authority to act for you but only when one or more doctors have certified that you no longer have the capacity to do so yourself. This means that you must draw up a welfare power of attorney while you are still capable of understanding what you are doing. No one, not even close relatives, can arrange a power of attorney for you.

The welfare power of attorney is only appropriate for use in Scotland. If you need a document for use in England & Wales or Northern Ireland, read our article on England and Wales or our article on Northern Ireland as appropriate.

What powers your attorney will have

Your welfare attorney will have the power to do some of the following (not an exhaustive list):

  • Deciding on your care arrangements
  • Deciding where you should live
  • Having access to confidential or personal information about your welfare, such as health records
  • Making medical treatment decisions including giving (or denying) consent to medical treatment on your behalf and giving (or denying) permission on your behalf to participate in medical research.
  • Making decisions on your clothes, personal appearance, diet, leisure activities or holidays
Registration

The welfare power of attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland in order for it to be effective. You must complete a registration form and send it, together with your completed welfare power of attorney and the Public Guardian's fee, to the Public Guardian's Office. The registration form can be accessed on the Public Guardian's Office website: Public Guardian in Scotland.

The Public Guardian issues a certificate of registration, which the attorney may subsequently need to use to confirm that they are validly exercising their powers. There is a fee of £65, payable to The Scottish Court Service, for registering a power of attorney which must be enclosed when you send the welfare power of attorney and the registration form to the Public Guardian's Office. The Public Guardian has a duty to inform you, by sending a copy of the document, when the welfare power of attorney is registered.

After the document is registered, your welfare attorney will only be able to use the powers granted to them in the document once you have been certified by one or more doctors to have lost the capacity to look after your own affairs. Whilst the powers granted under your welfare power of attorney will only be effective in the event that you no longer have capacity to manage your affairs, you should still complete the registration process at this time, to ensure that a valid and effective document is in place and available for use by your Attorney, if and when required in the future. If you don't register it, your attorney will have to do so once you become incapacitated. This will take time and leave you in the undesirable situation of being incapacitated without anyone to look after your affairs while your attorney is busy with the process of registration, which can take some time.

Continuing powers of attorney

In addition to a welfare power of attorney, it is possible to have another type of power, called a continuing power of attorney. This document gives your attorney the power to look after your financial affairs. This means that they will have the power to do such things as pay your bills and operate your bank account.

As 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 do this by creating these powers separately or in one combined continuing and welfare power of attorney, if you would prefer.

Further information

If you need any further information, you should consult the Public Guardian's Office by visiting the Public Guardian's website.