Pensioners should act now to beat legal aid cuts

With a £900 million cut in the Scottish Budget next year it is clear various services must be hit.  A whole series of bodies including Age Scotland and the Scottish Association for Mental Health have flagged up worries facing various sectors in society – particularly disadvantaged groups. Now the Law Society of Scotland has joined the debate and warned that cuts in the legal aid budget would threaten the public’s access to justice. One little known feature of the Scottish Legal Aid system is that it is relatively generous to pensioners.  Through the “Advice and Assistance” element of the legal aid system, about 80 to 90% of Scottish pensioners can have basic legal work done absolutely free or at a significantly subsidised cost. David Borrowman, of Caesar and Howie is worried that this aspect of the system may change.  “I really hope that whatever changes come to the system this relative generosity to older folk stays in place” says David…“A key document every older person should prepare is a Power of Attorney, appointing a trusted friend or relative to look after their affairs should they become unable to themselves.  We prepare lots of these free to the client because of legal aid and I would hate to see that benefit removed.  Apart from anything else the cost of dealing with incapacity would go up because the less Powers of Attorney that are written the more court applications for guardianship there will be.” David’s advice to pensioners and to those involved in pensioners groups is simple. “Pensioners should act now – the three key family care documents, a Will, a Power of Attorney and a Living Will can all be done on legal aid.  Do them now – don’t’ wait.  If this benefit is cut you will be too late.”