A legal proxy is a person that can make medical, welfare or financial decisions for an adult with incapacity.
Types of legal proxy
There are 3 types of legal proxy:
- Welfare attorney – someone appointed to make decisions about a persons care and treatment if they are ever unable to do so themselves
- Welfare guardian – someone appointed by a court to make decisions about a person’s care and treatment on their behalf
- An intervention order – someone appointed by a court to make a one-off decision about a person’s care or treatment within a set period
How to become a legal proxy
Applying to become a legal proxy can be complicated and you may need to seek legal advice from a solicitor or legal advisor.
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) may be able to help you with this process.
Your rights as a legal proxy
If you are a legal proxy, you should be asked to consent on behalf of the person you care for.
Before doing so, you may be asked to show a copy of the power of attorney document as proof.
In an emergency, a doctor can go ahead with treatment without your consent if it will:
- save the person’s life
- stop them suffering more serious harm
If you are a legal proxy, you may also have the right to see their health records.
Disagreeing with a decision as a legal proxy
As a legal proxy, you have the right to disagree with the care or treatment of the person you care.
You cannot demand that a particular treatment is given but can object to a treatment that you think should not be given.
If you disagree with a decision, a second opinion will be sought from an independent doctor.
If the second doctor agrees with the first doctor’s decision, the health care or treatment can be given.
If the second doctor does not agree with the first doctor’s decision, it can't.
If you disagree with the second doctor’s opinion, you can go to the Court of Session to ask for the treatment to be stopped. You may need to get help from a solicitor if you want to do this.
Disagreeing with a decision if you are not a legal proxy
If you disagree with a decision and not a legal proxy:
- your views should still be taken account
- you can ask for a second opinion
A doctor can still treat the person you care for unless you go to court and get an order to stop it.
Making a complaint about a decision
If you're unhappy about a medical decision, you have the right to make a complaint.
Find out more about giving feedback and making a complaint