Powers of attorney registered before 2009, currently held by the Office of the Public Guardian in secure off-site storage, will be destroyed after 31 December unless their return is requested

The Office of the Public Guardian has announced its intention to cease storing powers of attorney registered before 2009, which are currently held in a secure, off-site storage facility.  

Until now, the OPG policy has been to recall PoAs from storage when it is notified of a terminating event, and return the PoA document to the original sender. However, from January 2020, all documents held in storage will be destroyed securely.

The reasons given for the change in policy are:

  • retrieving documentation from storage and returning to the sender has proved to be a time-consuming exercise and one which takes staff away from core business such as processing powers of attorney and supervision of financial guardians;
  • there is significant cost to the public purse in renting storage space;
  • often when OPG returns an original PoA, the sender contacts the OPG to ask why it has sent the document and what they are to do with it. 

Over the past six months, the OPG has carried out a pilot exercise where it has not returned the original power of attorney when notified of a terminating event. During this exercise, no one asked about or requested the return of the original document. It appears, therefore, that there is no expectation from senders to have the PoA returned after it has terminated. 

All registered powers of attorney will continue to be held digitally and therefore the OPG can provide copies if required. Under its records management policy, scanned images are held on record for 12 months following termination of a power of attorney. 

The new policy will be implemented on 3 January 2020, after which any powers of attorney registered prior to 2009 and held in storage will be destroyed securely. If any solicitors wish to hold certain original powers of attorney, they must write to the OPG before 31 December 2019 indicating the specific documents they require. 

For further information, please contact opg@scotcourts.gov.uk


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