Taking on Power of Attorney may lead to a world of frustration and confusion

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ELSPETH Paget’s article on Power of Attorney follows the usual line of encouraging us all to arrange POA (Friends of the Scotsman. 30 May).

Once in place, the POA document sets out clearly all the powers that the person appointed holds. But armed with these powers, the person so appointed will enter a wilderness of apathy and ignorance.

The document will not set out the responsibilities of the task. I have asked several lawyer friends and none claim to have any understanding of the responsibilities attached to POA (as distinct from powers which are clear). Medics and social workers appear to get no guidance whatsoever on how to respond to someone with POA.

Relevant books, booklets and online advice encourages arranging POA but nowhere can I find advice about responsibilities.

An article explaining how a person trying to exercise powers of attorney might negotiate through “the Care Maze “– now that would make interesting reading.

Can a person with POA do nothing when, for example, a social worker refuses to communicate? Is there a duty in law requiring a welfare POA to insist on answers and action? To whom is the POA accountable if they fail to champion the cause of the person for whom they have POA? In what circumstances would it be reasonable to initiate court action?

Who pays if it is going to take a major court case to clarify relevant law?

Think twice before agreeing to act as POA for a friend – at least until you know that relevant law and practice have been clarified.

Iain Gill

Paisley Gardens, Edinburgh

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