Power of Attorney: Elizabeth’s Story

Elizabeth’s parents did not want to set up a Power of Attorney, but when Vascular Dementia hindered their ability to make decisions for themselves, Elizabeth found herself limited in what she could do without Power of Attorney set up. She shares her story with us.

I would always advocate that Power of Attorney is organised sooner rather than later. Both my parents have vascular dementia and when the subject was broached in the early stages they resisted strongly. As a result I have had to apply for Guardianship through the legal system. The process took around 9-10 months (with many professionals having to visit my parents to compile reports) culminating in an appearance at the Sheriff Court. Fortunately, guardianship was granted without ‘Caution’. During this I also had to apply for legal aid. Even with the legal aid there were still a number of costs to be met (around £600).

Since being granted welfare and financial guardianship I have spent time completing audit and management data for the Office of the Public Guardian; visited my parents’ bank to give them copies of the guardianship and sorting out direct debits; letting their solicitor know about the change in circumstances; and letting the GP surgery know. At times this felt like having a second full time job.

I am happier with these powers as I now feel I can make decisions to ensure they remain in their own home as long as possible and that they enjoy the same quality of life. When unscrupulous companies telephone my parents now to arrange insurance for their Television box, my father can no longer complete the transaction, as I have been able to arrange for him to have an ATM card without the security number on the reverse. At one point, my parents had six sets of insurance for their Television box and were also paying an extortionate amount for their gas servicing.

It is easy to have 20/20 hindsight, but this is why I would always advise others to sort out Power of Attorney at the earliest opportunity.

For more information on Power of Attorney visit the Age Scotland website, or download our Information Pack. You can also speak to someone about your individual situation by calling Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90.

Taking control with Power of Attorney

Age Scotland’s Power of Attorney Project Officer,  Rebecca Dickson, explains how, by drawing up a Power of Attorney, you can retain control and a higher quality of living if you ever become unable to make decisions independently. 

Most services within charities, the NHS and businesses are moving towards a more person-centred approach in what they do, so all decisions about you and your life should be guided by your wishes and with your best interests in mind.

A Power of Attorney can help keep you at the centre of those decisions if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.

As part of Age Scotland’s Power of Attorney campaign, we are asking you to think about what it is that makes your life yours. What is important to you? What decisions do you make in your daily life that need to stay the same if you could not make them for yourself? A Power of Attorney should reflect your wishes, lifestyle and beliefs and be personal to you.

A Power of Attorney could include:

  • What you eat – perhaps you are a vegetarian or don’t eat certain foods because of your beliefs and you need your Attorney to make sure this is respected;
  • Medical decisions – do you feel strongly about certain medical treatments? As well as making your GP aware of this, put it in a Power of Attorney so that your Attorney knows what you think about treatment options;
  • How you look – an Attorney with financial powers can use your money to pay a hairdresser or barber to have your hair cut the way you like it on a regular basis.

Attorneys have a responsibility to make decisions according to your best interests and your wishes, as far as is practical. They also need to ensure that your skills and abilities are being used as much as possible. So, if you still have the ability to make some decisions they will support you in doing so, rather than make them for you.

A Power of Attorney should ensure that the quality of your life and the way you live it is not diminished even when your ability to make your decisions has faltered.

It is important to have conversations about what is important to you with people you trust and formalise it in a Power of Attorney so your Attorney can make decisions which enable you to live life to the full.

If you would like more information or advice on Power of Attorney, please call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90. The information pack is available here or Silver Line Scotland advisers can send you a free copy. If you are interested in having a talk or workshop on Power of Attorney for your group, please e-mail rebecca.dickson@agescotland.org.uk.

The Difference Power of Attorney makes: Shirley’s story

Guest Blogger Shirley Gill’s parents were diagnosed with Dementia within a year of each other. Her father had Power of Attorney set up but her mother did not. In her guest blog, she shares with us the vastly different experiences she had when trying to manage her parent’s financial matters, and the difference that having Power of Attorney set up made.

Initially my parents had no Will or Power of Attorney in place. My Mum saw herself as forever youthful, and Dad had always allowed her to attend to all financial matters. After being reluctant to attend her GP, Mum was late in receiving a diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia at the age of 70. She was admitted to hospital then moved into nursing home care. Mum lacked the capacity to make decisions about her finances and welfare, but as there was no Power of Attorney set up, I was advised that to be able to make any decisions on her behalf, I would need to apply for guardianship.

Mum and I met with solicitors to assess her views but she didn’t understand any of it. The solicitor then had to write to the GP and Consultant about her diagnosis and capacity. The solicitors also then had to write to every close relative of Mum’s, to find out if anyone had an objection to me being her guardian, despite the fact that some of them had had no recent contact with Mum. This process took months and in the interim I had to apply for Access to Funds at Office of Public Guardian (OPG) so that I could deal with Mum’s financial matters. For this I had to detail her every requirement and it was very stressful and time-consuming.

During this time, Dad agreed to see a solicitor to arrange a Will and Power of Attorney. Dad was visited in his own home and the whole process was straight-forward and not costly. The following year he was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. It was a comfort to know that with the Power of Attorney set up, we had everything in place so that I could look after his finances and welfare when he was no longer able.

Several lawyer’s letters later, Guardianship was eventually in place for Mum, having cost a total of £6000. I needed to have this in order to make any decisions about Mum’s care or deal with her finances. Even now the process is complete, I have to send annual accounts to OPG which is very time consuming.

What I have learned from this experience is that it’s a good idea to arrange a Will and Power of Attorney in as much advance as you can, you are never too young. I have now arranged a Will and for my daughter to be my Power of Attorney. I would urge people to consider Power of Attorney to protect their families and reduce any unnecessary stress in the event of illness.

For more information on Power of Attorney visit the Age Scotland website, or to speak to someone about your individual situation call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90.

POA logo

Power of Attorney – Our National Campaign

Rebecca Dickson, our Power of Attorney Project Officer, kicks off our national campaign to get Scotland talking about Power of Attorney.

We all plan in some way for the “what ifs” of tomorrow.POA logo We might set aside some rainy day savings, make a will, or have a discussion about what we would want to happen should life not go according to plan. Power of Attorney can form part of that discussion. Appointing one or several Attorneys provides us with an opportunity to have a think about and express what our priorities and wishes are in relation to various areas of our lives. This could include instructions regarding financial affairs or even how we would like to be taken care of if we become ill.

Granting a Power of attorney is something which can give you peace of mind. Knowing that you have expressed your wishes as to what you would like to happen in a situation you may find yourself in, should you no longer be in a position to make such a decision yourself. Financial affairs can also be managed for you even if it is for the reason that you are due to be out of the country for a period of time or you feel that a trusted person is perhaps better suited to managing a particular aspect of your affairs on your behalf.

Handpick who makes decisions on your behalfForward planning is the key to granting a Power of Attorney given the fact that it must be granted by someone who has been deemed to have full capacity to make such a decision. An Attorney may never be needed, but if they are then you can have the peace of mind knowing that they are equipped with the knowledge and legal authority to make decisions according to what is important to you and in your best interests.

So, what is important to you? Imagine you became unable to accurately express your wishes: What is it that you would want people to know about you? Perhaps you are a vegetarian and want to ensure none of your meals contain meat products; or you would like your bills paid two days early, because that’s what you have always done; or maybe you would like someone to know your feelings about certain medical treatments in the event they will be something you may want to consider.

We are encouraging Scotland’s older population to be thinking about what is important to them and to consider expressing this in a Power of Attorney document. There are many situations in which individuals find themselves which may have been avoided or eased if there was someone around who had the legal authority to make a decision on his or her behalf.  This is one of several reasons behind Age Scotland’s Power of Attorney Campaign.

As part of our campaign and in my role as Power of Attorney Project Officer, I will be connecting with local groups and communities to raise awareness and promote the use of Power of Attorney. I will be delivering presentations, facilitating workshops and liaising with professionals and other organisations in order to spread the word.

Rebecca at her latest POA event

Rebecca talking about POA at an event in Tranent

If you feel there is an event or group that would benefit from more information or a presentation, please let us know. Similarly, if you have an experience you would like to share with us in relation to Power of Attorney, please email communications@agescotland.org.uk

Visit Age Scotland for more information, where you will find a Power of Attorney Information pack and our handy Mythbuster. Alternatively you can call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90 (8am-8pm, Monday to Friday).

Tackling the taboo

As the saying goes you cannot get pregnant when talking about sex and equally you will not die from making a will. Colin Darcy, Age Scotland Enterprise’s Insurance Manager reports.

The friendly Afore Ye Go team,

The friendly ‘Afore Ye Go’ team in Newton Stewart on 4th September

Death and dying are topics we naturally shy away from but it is something we all need to face up to, as like taxes, it is inevitable. At Age Scotland Enterprises we speak to lots of people every year who do exactly that and are helping people to tackle this taboo by running a number of events called ‘Afore Ye Go’, which tackles some of these issues. There have been three events with seventy attendees so far in Hawick, Stranraer and Newton Stewart and all have received very positive feedback.

Mrs D who attended an Afore Ye Go event in Glasgow said: “I had always put off thinking about such things – it seemed morbid. But going along to the event was great. It wasn’t downbeat; it gave me really practical advice. I went away and took some of that advice by making some decisions and plans that actually lifted a weight off my shoulders.”

Solicitors for Older People Scotland, one of Age Scotland’s Affinity partners, will deliver a short presentation covering topics such as Wills, Power of Attorney, Advanced Directives, which might sound a bit daunting but are effectively documents which will help clarify people’s wishes and instructions when they either lose capacity or are no longer around. Other topics discussed are pre-paid Funeral Plans which can help freeze funeral prices at today’s prices, no matter when the plan is required. An easy way to save yourself money but also to help your family out at a time when they need it most, when you aren’t here!

Age Scotland Helpline will also talk about the services they can provide across a wide range of topics ranging from what benefits you can claim to how you can get a handyman.
Interested in attending these free seminars, the remain ones for the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway are:

We’re holding Forward Planning Open weeks at our offices in October:

The will also be events in the Scottish Borders

  • Peebles, 19th November
  • Galashiels, 13th February
  • Coldstream, 10th April

For more details contact Ian Howie on 01557 331346.

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