The Office of the Public Guardian looks after those that are vulnerable and might not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions. As well as keeping a record of those with Power of Attorney, there are other services available.
The Office of the Public Guardian fulfils an important role. In Scotland, this role includes processing and registering applications for Power of Attorney. There are also several other tasks that fall under the remit of the Office of the Public Guardian, with every part of the role designed to protect some of society’s most vulnerable.
Read on to find out more about the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland.
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What Is the Office of the Public Guardian?
The Office of the Public Guardian for Scotland carries out several different roles. The most well-known and widely published role is that of managing Power of Attorney. If you register Power of Attorney, it’s the Office of the Public Guardian that processes your application. This is also where the records are kept so that they can be accessed when they’re needed.
The Office of the Public Guardian may also be involved in other areas of similar interest, like providing access to an individual’s funds if someone else requests them for a good reason. The Office of the Public Guardian may process an Intervention Order, allowing someone to take a one-off action in the interests of another individual, or a Guardianship Order for long-term powers if Power of Attorney’s not in place.
Essential, all the roles of the Office of the Public Guardian are related to getting the best possible outcomes for those that can’t make their own decisions, perhaps because they’ve lost mental capacity through illness, injury or a progressive condition. As well as giving powers, the Office of the Public Guardian also investigates if there’s a risk that powers might be abused.
How Long Has the Office of the Public Guardian Existed?
The Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland was formed in 2001. It’s part of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, acting in accordance with the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.
What Powers Does the Office of the Public Guardian Have?
The Office of the Public Guardian can register Power of Attorney and maintain related records. It also fulfils a supervisory role, ensuring that vulnerable people are protected from forms of abuse and neglect. An investigation may be carried out if it’s thought that an attorney or guardian isn’t acting in a vulnerable person’s best interests.
Where Power of Attorney has not been provided by a donor to someone of their choice, it’s possible for others to apply to fill this position. They might make decisions about finances, care or the management of the property.
The Office of the Public Guardian can provide a temporary Intervention Order, or a more permanent Guardianship Order, to people deserving of those documents. You can also apply to the Office of the Public Guardian if you need to access funds belonging to a vulnerable person.
How Can People Contact the Office of the Public Guardian?
The Office of the Public Guardian is located in Falkirk. It’s possible to visit in person if required, though contact by telephone or email may be the best choice. If you ever did need to visit, you can find the address on the OPG website.
There are many different ways to contact the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland. The exact contact details you use will depend on the nature of your enquiry. General enquiries can be sent to [email protected].
There are many different forms that you might need to fill in to register Power of Attorney. All of these contain everything you need to direct them to the right place.
Register of Attorneys and Guardians
The Office of the Public Guardian maintains a record of registered attorneys and guardians. This isn’t available for public access, though you can request information that’s held relating to one specific person.
In order to access any information that’s held on the public register, you will need to contact the Office of the Public Guardian. You’ll have to request this information by sending a written letter. Your letter should detail known information about the person you’re searching for, like their full name and date of birth or their current address. You do not need to pay to search the register.
Setting up Lasting Power of Attorney
You can submit Power of Attorney online. The online service is the quickest way to process an application, also providing the option to pay your administration fees online by debit or credit card.
You can also send forms through the mail if you’d prefer to, though the Office of the Public Guardian may take longer to process paper applications sent this way.
Most applications made online will be processed within 30 days. You should make sure that you’re sending your forms long before you think that you’ll need to, as you must still be mentally capable until Power of Attorney is registered. If an error is highlighted on your application form, you may need to fill it in again. If you have a progressive condition like dementia, don’t leave it until the last minute to send your Power of Attorney forms.
Once Your Power of Attorney Is Registered
Once your Power of Attorney is registered, the records will be maintained long-term by the Office of the Public Guardian. Details aren’t published, though it is possible for the information to be accessed by anyone that makes a request for it. To access information about donors and attorneys, anyone can contact the Office of the Public Guardian. To make the search as easy as possible, they should have information like the name, address and date of birth of the donor.
By maintaining a register, the Office of the Public Guardian can work to keep every donor safe and protected from abuse and neglect. An investigation can be carried out if it’s believed that your attorneys aren’t acting in your best interests.
If you haven’t registered Power of Attorney but later become mentally incapable of expressing your own wishes, the Office of the Public Guardian may choose to provide those powers to someone that requests them. These powers can be provided temporarily, permanently, or as a one-off for a specific action. For example, power might be given to sell your property but not to manage all other finances, or could be given for one important medical decision.
If it’s thought that your mental capacity will not recover, the Office of the Public Guardian may choose to give permanent powers to an interested party.
Quick Lasting Power of Attorney FAQs
With an LPA for Property and Financial Affairs, you can give an attorney (chosen by you) the power to look after your money. They’ll be able to make decisions about bank account management and what your money is spent on. They can also make decisions about buying property, selling it and maintaining it. Decisions can be made about bill payments, investments and any benefits or pensions.
Also known as Medical Lasting Power of Attorney, or Lasting Power of Attorney for Care, this is one of two types of LPA that can be given. The other is Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs.
With Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, some of the decisions made on your behalf can include who you spend time with, what you eat and what medical care you receive. Your attorney(s) can also decide where you live and what activities you should take part in.
Lasting Power of Attorney fees are charges in place to set up your LPA. You’ll pay £82 for each type of Lasting Power of Attorney. That’s £82 for financial/property, and another £82 for medical/care, to a total cost of £164.
If you fill in Lasting Power of Attorney forms for financial decisions, you give someone else the power to look after your bills and any property you own. Essentially, they’re in charge of your estate and your day-to-day living costs.
Lasting Power of Attorney for medical care needs gives the power to decide where you live, as well as control of your medical care and the type of lifestyle you’ll have. Someone with this power can decide how your days are spent, who you’ll see and what you eat. It’s a big responsibility.
Giving someone Lasting Power of Attorney means that they’ll make decisions on your behalf, typically relating to medical care or financial management. You can choose to give this power if you want to be free from those decisions, though in most cases Lasting Power of Attorney is used because it’s needed, not just wanted.
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