Information for Families

If your partner or a family member is diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease it can be difficult for them to cope with, but it can also have a significant effect on your life too.

Although most asbestos-related illnesses are long term conditions, the impact it can have on family finances can be immediate.  We are here to help.

Our welfare rights team provide specialist advice on benefits and compensation and have over 80 years of experience between them.

Financial help

If your partner or family member’s health is particularly badly affected by an asbestos-related illness, they may find that they have to give up work. In this situation, you may also decide to give up work in order to care for them. That is why our welfare rights service is available not only to those diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition but also to partners, families & carers.

The last thing that you need at a stressful time is to try and navigate your way through the maze of state benefits. Our welfare rights team will not only identify your options, in terms of benefits you may be entitled to at the time of diagnosis of a partner or family member but also what benefits you may be entitled to if and when your circumstances change.

Self-management Toolkit

Living with an asbestos-related disease

CAA, with funding from Alliance Scotland, has produced a self-management Toolkit for those diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition. The Toolkit aims to address any concerns that individuals may experience following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related condition.  This offers a valuable resource for individuals, partners and carers.

The Toolkit contains 5 Booklets and a DVD

  • Common Investigations
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Managing Breathlessness
  • Hints and Tips
  • Personal Stories

Support Groups

As a carer or family member involved in looking after someone who is ill, it is important that you also remember to take care of yourself.

Our support groups are open to individuals with an asbestos condition and their carer or family member.  Support groups offer mutual support and enable members to cope with problems in a positive way, reducing the isolation felt by many asbestos-related disease sufferers and their families/carers.

Civil Compensation

With asbestos-related conditions, as well as the obvious medical implications, there are often legal implications to contemplate. The majority of those who contract an asbestos-related condition do so as a direct result of their employer’s negligence. This often necessitates the involvement of personal injury solicitors to advise individuals and families of the possibility that they may be entitled to compensation.

Terminal Illness

Unfortunately, for those who suffer from terminal asbestos-related conditions, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer, there are other legal considerations that have to be addressed such as making a will or whether a claim for compensation can be made after death.  On some occasions, family members can become more distressed after a loved one dies as they are often unaware that the police, Procurator Fiscal (Scotland) may become involved to establish whether a post-mortem is necessary.

Our online information explaining the role of the Procurator Fiscal is for families who may find themselves in this situation. Our welfare rights officers are always available to bereaved family members to guide you through this strenuous period. We will answer any questions you may have or simply be a listening ear at the most difficult of times.

Making a will

By making a will your partner/family member can decide what happens to property and possessions after death. Although you do not have to make one by law, it is the best way to make sure an estate is passed on to family and friends exactly as your partner or family member wishes.

If someone dies without leaving a will, any assets may be distributed according to the law rather than their wishes

Why it’s important to make a will

A will sets out who is to benefit from property and possessions (estate) after death. There are many good reasons to make a will:

• you can decide how your assets are shared – if you don’t have a will, the law says who gets what
• if you’re an unmarried couple (whether or not it’s a same-sex relationship), you can make sure your partner is provided for (if you’re the partner of the person but weren’t their husband, wife or civil partner when they died, you’re also not automatically entitled to any of your partner’s estate)
• if you’re divorced, you can decide whether to leave anything to your former partner
• you can make sure you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than necessary
• If you die and have an outstanding claim for government compensation, it helps make sure the compensation due to your dependants can be distributed correctly and without any  unnecessary delays or paperwork

Power of Attorney

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or make decisions on your behalf.

This gives you more control over what happens to you if, for example, you have an accident or an illness and can’t make decisions at the time they need to be made (you ‘lack mental capacity’).

You must be 18 or over and have mental capacity – the ability to make your own decisions – when you make your LPA.

There are 2 types of LPA:

  • health and welfare
  • property and financial affairs

You can choose to make one type or both.

Power of Attorney: Scotland

A power of attorney (PoA) is a written document that gives someone else legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. Anyone over 16 can make a PoA and it lasts indefinitely unless you decide to terminate it. The law says that someone who is currently declared as bankrupt can make a PoA to deal with their personal welfare decision making but not about their financial and property affairs.

Having a PoA lets you plan what you want another person to do for you in the future, should you become incapable of making decisions about your own affairs.


When someone close to you dies, there are of course many decisions and arrangements to be made.

There is information available which offers practical advice about what to do after a death, including information regarding the role of the Procurator Fiscal or Coroner, how to register a death and how to arrange a funeral.

The Scottish Government booklet ‘What to do after a death in Scotland’  offers practical advice at a time of bereavement.

You can also access further information and support for bereavement from NHS Inform (Scotland).

Bereavement & Benefits

There are a number of benefits/payments that may be available if you have lost someone close to you.  This could be financial assistance to help with the costs of a funeral for a loved one or additional benefits for a widow or widower.  As always our welfare rights team are available to you to answer your questions and assist with your applications for benefit.

Compensation and Benefits Advice Service

Action on Asbestos has a welfare rights team able to provide you with practical and emotional support as well as advise you on all aspects of benefits and compensation you may be entitled to.

Our website contains a brief outline of the main benefits and compensation that an individual may be entitled to. However, the UK system of benefits and compensation is extremely complicated and constantly evolving.  We would advise you, therefore, to contact us in the first instance.

Compensation & Benefits Advice Service Compensation & Benefits Advice Service

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Last reviewed February 2020

Please contact us for further advice and information: