Some books are written by experts for experts – because they are the only people who will be able to make sense of such densely technical tomes. Sandra McDonald’s recent book, Power of Attorney, is clearly written by an expert for… everyone. It showcases Sandra’s in-depth knowledge of her field – gained from her experience as the former Public Guardian for Scotland, and now an independent advisor and trainer on mental capacity issues, as well as being Attorney for her own parents – but does so in an extremely readable and engaging manner, making it highly accessible.
Power of Attorney is presented as The One-Stop Guide, and this is certainly a fair assessment. It is an easy-to-use reference book on virtually every aspect of Power of Attorney (PoA), from debunking some common myths (such as the assumption that a partner of next of kin will have the rights and access to information and be able to make decisions about their loved one without the need of a PoA, or that it is only worth having one if the individual has money or property), to the process of setting up the PoA and the mechanics of using it. Even the index of this book is very useful, making it easy to find answers to sometimes very specific questions. The book also identifies and covers the subtle differences between the UK’s 4 nations when it comes to Power of Attorney.
The book is helpfully divided into three main sections. The first 5 chapters introduce PoA and discuss the factors to consider in granting one. This covers what to include in the document, how to choose your attorney or attorneys, and the practical steps involved in setting it up. The next 7 chapters deal with issues for Attorneys themselves to bear in mind – and there are many, but these are addressed in turn. The final chapter, crucially, in my experience, is written for those who will work with Attorneys – a wide range of individuals and institutions. All three sections, and their respective audiences, are vital in making the Power of Attorney process work, and I believe that Sandra McDonald’s book provides essential reading for anyone involved with a Power of Attorney – from solicitors to social workers, granters and attorneys alike, whether you’re likely to need one or use one soon or not.
Review by Colin Scott (Community Response Co-ordinator, Scotland).