Power of attorney and power of technology in a coronavirus crisis
At this challenging and uncertain time of self-isolation and fear of public spaces, it is important that we prepare for all eventualities, engaging in what certainty we can to protect ourselves and our families. Let’s remember the things that we do have the power to do.
Power of Attorney - Power to You
Powers of Attorney are a fantastic way to provide a trustworthy person with the power to carry out tasks which you would ordinarily do but are unable to – for example, due to self-isolation, confinement or simply because of the anxiety associated with venturing out in public at this time. Don’t wait, put one in place now.
There are 2 elements to a Power of Attorney – a Continuing (or financial) part and a Welfare part.
The Continuing part provides a range of powers which allow the Attorney to deal with any financial matters for the granter – this could simply be attending the bank, assisting with financial management (instructing an accountant, stockbroker and / or wealth advisor) or using their finances to arrange for delivery of goods. In times where venturing out in public is more of a concern to certain vulnerable groups, the distinct advantage of having a Power of Attorney in place to deal with financial matters is that it can be set up to activate as soon as it is registered (with the Office of the Public Guardian). It is important to note that this does not mean that you give up the power to do everything that you would normally do, it just means that support is immediately there when required.
The Welfare part deals with any matters linked to the health or welfare of the granter – this could be the decision about where the granter is cared for and the medical treatment they receive. Unlike a Continuing Power of Attorney, the Welfare element only activates when the granter has lost capacity (that loss may be temporary or permanent).
Of course, Powers of Attorney are revocable should any circumstances change when they are in place.
Power of Technology - Power to us to give the Power to You
Ordinarily a solicitor (or doctor) is required to meet a person granting a Power of Attorney immediately before they sign it to ensure that the client is fully capable and understands the nature of signing the deed. Of course, we would not recommend clogging up doctors’ appointments at this time to ask that they sign off a legal document – solicitors should absolutely be doing all we can to support our precious NHS at this time in any way we can. As such, the Law Society and Public Guardian have, like most other institutions and businesses, adapted their procedure to ensure that we still have the power to assist clients with executing a Power of Attorney.
All that is required is yourself, any video conferencing facility (Skype being one example) and a witness (over the age of 16 and not related to you) to be present at the time of signing – get in touch and we can take care of the rest.
26th March 2020
The Law Society of Scotland has issued guidance of how the process can continue during COVID-19.
24th March 2020
Rishi Sunak delivered his first Budget to the UK parliament on Wednesday 11 March.
19th March 2020
An alternative way to deal with "wet-ink" signatories in the COVID-19 crisis.