What I propose to do is to set out what are the different ways of obtaining a Power of Attorney and the risk/costs balance involved.
Make with a Solicitor
When I set up MyScottishAttorney I did some research and the average price for a Solicitor to prepare the Power of Attorney was £270 including VAT. That will include the cost of the Solicitor signing the required certificate (to the effect that you are of sound mind and know what you are doing).
The service usually involves two meetings with the solicitor, the first to take instructions and the second to carry out the signing and certifying. The solicitor will also complete all the forms for your attorney to sign and arrange for registration at the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland).
You will have to pay an additional £70 for the registration but that does not go to the solicitor but to the public Guardian and is something you will have to pay even if you “do it”.
You can be assured that the job is professionally done and, if it turns out to be a bad job, you have the opportunity to make a claim on the lawyer’s insurance.
That’s the professional option.
Do It Yourself
Another alternative is that there are sample Powers of Attorney on the Scottish Public Guardian’s website. The Public Guardian , however, does point out that they are only there to give you “information and advice” and they do not pretend to be anything else. They suggest that you may wish to consult a solicitor!
You can imagine that if I have set up a website that I will have a great deal of experience and knowledge of Powers of Attorney and I can assure you that the “samples” do not cover all the scenarios that a professionally prepared Power would.
And that is the problem for anyone who’s not a lawyer. You might well be able to type something up but does it cut the mustard when it is needed? Does it cover all the scenarios? To quote the Public Guardian: — “When creating a power of attorney you should consider carefully what powers you wish to be included in the document. The power of attorney document outlines the granter’s instructions therefore it is important that the wishes of the granter are stated in the document i.e. who is to be appointed, what type of appointment is to be given and which powers are to be given to the attorney(s).”
She then goes on to talk about whether powers should or should not be available after incapacity.
The problem for the layman is as Donald Rumsfeld said: –“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
Lawyers are expensive and I can understand the resentment that that may cause but, sadly, it is plain economics. It costs a lot of money to set up shop, get insurance , pay your Law society dues, employ secretaries and receptionists and, so, of the £270 you pay, not a lot goes into the back pocket of the lawyer.
I think that you also have to have to reflect on what it would cost to make a mess of it. If the Power of Attorney does not work when you need it, you may need to spend a lot of money on Solicitors to obtain a Guardianship or Intervention order from the court. That is likely to run into £000’s .
Make It Online
There is a third alternative. Make your power of attorney online at MyScottishAttorney. I am a solicitor. I designed it. It is a unique solution – you will not find anything else like it in Scotland.
I accept that it is not as flexible as going to see a Solicitor but you can do it from home, when you want to and you do not have to take time off work . It costs £49-£99. If you go to your doctor for the certificate, he or she may charge but, perhaps, not. A solicitor or advocate will charge something but you should ask beforehand.
That’s quite a saving.
I hope this has been helpful in allowing you to weigh the pros and cons in the balance and make your choice. As Jeanette Winterson said: — “What you risk reveals what you value.”