Number of existing guardianships orders in Scotland has risen by 12% since 2016-17.

According to the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland’s most recent report, there are now 13,501 existing guardianship orders in Scotland. With steep increases in the number of orders being granted year upon year, the Executive Director of the Commission has expressed his concerns, noting that the guardianship application process is both a complex and time consuming legal process.

When is a Guardianship order required?

Guardianships are required where a person does not have a power of attorney in place, and loses capacity to make decisions for themselves. In these circumstances, often a family member will have to apply for a guardianship order, to be able to make decisions for their loved one. When applying for a guardianship order, the prospective applicant has to submit an application to court, as well as a number of reports, resulting in a lengthy and costly process.

As the number of applications increases, the pressure on courts and the professionals who prepare the reports continues to build. Unfortunately, family members are often left waiting months before they have the authority to make decisions on behalf of their loved ones. This can cause lengthy delays, often where important decisions about a person’s personal care and welfare or financial affairs need to be made.

Powers of attorney

A power of attorney is a document that allows a person who has capacity, to appoint someone they trust to make decisions for them, should they no longer be capable of making those decisions themselves. With the right advice, the process for putting a power of attorney in place is relatively quick and straight forward. If you are able to, you should give yourself peace of mind and put a power of attorney in place. This could avoid your family having to go through the guardianship process and give them the ability to make important decisions, quickly and without difficulty.

Planning ahead and taking advice

One common misconception surrounding powers of attorney is that you only need one when you are elderly, or when you have been diagnosed with a condition such as Dementia. In fact, the best course of action is to be proactive and take specialist legal advice as early as possible. None of us know what is around the corner, so give yourself peace of mind and put a power of attorney in place now.