Start the conversation about power of attorney

Published: 1st April 2024

Power of Attorney

The Health and Social Care Partnership is encouraging people to begin planning for the time when they may no longer be able to make decisions for themselves.

Many people assume that if something happens to you and you can no longer make decisions for yourself, your next of kin, a family member or a partner can automatically make welfare and financial decisions. However, legally this is not the case. They do not have the power to act or even manage your welfare decisions unless you have made your plan.

Granting a Power of Attorney (PoA) allows you to nominate who would make decisions for you if you were no longer able to make them yourself. This would be someone you trust such as a relative, partner or close friend.

Not having a PoA can have a significant impact on the outcomes you or your loved ones can experience when unwell, including long delays in accessing necessary services or being in hospital longer than required. This is because if you have not granted powers in advance, and you lose the capacity to make your own decisions, the courts have to appoint someone to be your Guardian. Family members can apply to be granted these powers after someone has lost capacity, but this is a long and expensive process costing around £2000 and requires a court hearing. 

A PoA is a written document giving someone else authority to take actions or make decisions on behalf of the person concerned. The individual chooses the person or persons they want to help them, called an attorney, and decides what powers they should have.

Councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol, Older People’s Champion and Dementia Champion

“While it can difficult to accept that the time may come when you are no longer able to look after your own financial and personal affairs – perhaps due to illness such as the onset of dementia or having a stroke – having a PoA in place means that you get to decide who will make decisions for you should you lose capacity.

"It’s as important a step as making a will, with plenty of advice and information out there to help you with the process.”

Phillip Grieve, Chief Nurse of the Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Partnership

“It is really important to grant someone in your life PoA before you need it. Waiting until when you need it may slow down getting the best care for you in that moment.

“Don’t delay and start the conversation today with a trusted person about granting Power of Attorney. If ill health or an accident means you can’t make decisions for yourself, who do you want to make them for you?”

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