The number of power of attorney documents being registered by Scotland’s ageing population has increased by nearly 40 per cent in four years.
Figures from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service show there were 63,209 power of attorneys (PoAs) put in place between April and December last year, up from 45,526 in 2013/14.
A PoA is a document which includes a certificate signed by either a solicitor or a doctor, and allows a person to designate a number of others to manage their affairs for when they are no longer capable.
According to statistics obtained by Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale using a parliamentary question, the number of attorneys appointed has increased from 69,952 in 2013/14 to almost 100,000 last year.
Julie McMahon, an associate at Aberdein Considine, said the increase was being fuelled partly by those in their 50s and 60s looking to set their affairs in order.
She said: “We do have a lot more people in the older age bracket with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. We’re getting a lot more people living longer and requiring them because they find they need assistance with either financial matters or care.
“But there’s also a second generation who have been through a situation where their parents didn’t have a power of attorney.
“It’s a bit of a nightmare if you don’t have something in place, so I’m now finding I’m doing them for people in their 50s and 60s, who may never need them.”
A PoA allows a designated person to handle bank, insurance and pension details as well as speak to doctors about care.
Ms Dugdale, said: “These figures suggest that more Scots are taking the sensible step of putting their financial and legal affairs in order.
“A Power of Attorney ensures that people still have the maximum say in what happens if one day they can’t make decisions for themselves.
“Dementia care is one of the biggest challenges facing the Scottish Government, and that’s one reason why a professor of dementia studies is on Scottish Labour’s NHS workforce commission which is examining solutions for the future.
“We know that people are facing barriers after years of SNP cuts to local budgets, so it’s time for careful planning because the number of people with dementia is steadily increasing.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Making an active directive, or appointing a power of attorney, is an individual decision and we would encourage anyone considering making one to seek specific professional advice.
“As part of our national commitment to post-diagnostic support, Link Workers will help people with dementia and their loved ones think about planning earlier for future decision-making.”