The number of adults in Scotland registering a power of attorney fell significantly in 2016, according to figures obtained from the Office of the Public Guardian.

Last year a total of 50,373 powers of attorney were registered with the OPG, compared to the 61,184 registered in 2016, an almost 18% decrease.

Decreases were consistent across all age groups, although the number of younger people registering a power of attorney is much lower than for those aged 50 or over. For people in their 20s, new PoAs fell from 197 to 186, while for those in their 50s, new PoAs fell from 5,345 to 4,622.

Elspeth Paget, head of private client at legal firm Gillespie Macandrew, which obtained the figures, said she was surprised after seeing the number jump by almost 20% between 2014 and 2015. She commented:

“The latest figures indicate that people may not be aware of how invaluable a power of attorney can be in unforeseen circumstances. It is disappointing to see the fall in numbers, especially having seen increases in those registering in recent years."

She added: "Both younger and older people should be aware that authorising a trusted person to make decisions could prevent serious consequences even at a young age, for example, having somebody able to make major decisions for you if you are seriously ill.”

Gillespie Macandrew is holding two free seminars open to people interested in finding out more or considering acting as an attorney in Edinburgh, on Thursday 15 June at Gillespie Macandrew’s offices at 5 Atholl Crescent, and in Perth on Wednesday 21 June at the Black Watch Museum. To attend, please contact