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A series of short information films to raise awareness of the importance of having a power of attorney (PoA) has been developed by NHS Western Isles (NHSWI), in partnership with a trio of local solicitor firms.

Ken MacDonald & Co, Anderson Macarthur Solicitor & Notaries, and MacDonald MacIver & Co Limited have all  joined the project that stresses that a spouse, next of kin, or named person does not automatically take over decision making for a person who has lost the capacity to do so.

Without a PoA, future decisions may actually be taken by a doctor, local authority, or court. This includes medical treatment, a home and living situation, and managing financial affairs.

A family member or named person would then have to apply to the court for a Guardianship or Intervention Order in order for them to manage affairs, which is a potentially long and expensive process.  

Eilidh MacInnes, Solicitor and Notary Public at MacDonald MacIver & Co Limited, said: “Many people assume that by already having a will in place, that this will suffice.

"However, it is incredibly important to note the difference between a will and a power of attorney - a will only applies after your death, whereas a power of attorney applies while you are still alive.” 

Iain Maclean, Solicitor and Notary Public at Ken MacDonald & Co, added: “A PoA is a vital legal document that adults over the age of 16 should have in place. It grants power to someone that you know and trust and gives them the authority to take action or make decisions on your behalf, when you no longer have the capacity to do so.”  

The registration fee for a PoA is £85, plus solicitor costs. Further information on PoAs is available at the My Power of Attorney website, while assistance for those on modest incomes is available from The Scottish Legal Aid Board.

In addition, the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative has grants available to help those with a current cancer diagnosis set up their PoA.

The six local films will be posted on NHS Western Isles social media channels each day from Monday December 4, and thereafter will be available on its Vimeo channel.