If someone has an illness, mental health issues or is suffering from dementia, or the effects of a stroke or a brain injury, they might not be able to manage their own financial or health and welfare affairs. The Mental Capacity Act allows another person to manage someone else's affairs, in their best interests, when they no longer have the mental capacity to do so themselves.
The Mental Capacity Act covers all decisions that the person cannot make for themselves. It includes major decisions about someone's property and financial affairs, health and welfare and where they live. It also covers everyday decisions about personal care, and things like giving gifts to others (a birthday or celebration gift to someone, or pocket money to a grandchild for example, if this has been the person's usual practice).
A person can prepare for being unable to make decisions by completing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). There are two types of LPA, to appoint someone such as a relative, friend or professional person to make decisions about health and welfare, and/or property and finance. The LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. A health and welfare LPA cannot be used until the person has lost capacity, but a property and finance LPA can be used once it is registered, which can be helpful for somebody in poor health.
For more information about LPA's visit the DirectGov website. The forms needed to complete and register an LPA can be downloaded from the DirectGov website. There is a fee payable when an LPA is registered (£110). If you are receiving certain means-tested benefits you might be eligible for help with, or full remission of, the fee. Details can be found on the website.
Office of the Public Guardian
PO Box 15118
Helpline: 0300 456 0300
Text phone: 0115 9342778
What is power of attorney?
Giving one or more people power of attorney means that they can decide who is to be responsible for your property, money and personal welfare if you are no longer able to do so. For example, if you were ill, had an accident, or no longer had the mental capacity to look after your own affairs.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA):
- Personal Welfare – one or more people who can make decisions on your behalf regarding your personal healthcare and welfare.
- Property and Affairs – one or more people who can make decisions on your behalf regarding your property and financial affairs. This could include paying your bills, collecting your benefits or selling your house.
Where do I begin if I want to arrange an LPA?
If you haven't made anyone power of attorney before, you now arrange it using the LPA system.
You can contact the following organisations for information and advice: GOV.UK - for information and advice about LPAs; Citizens Advice Bureau - for guidance about managing affairs for someone else; Age UK - for information and advice about managing your finances in later life.
There is a range of information on GOV.UK about the Appointeeship service where you can appoint someone else to receive a your benefits, so that they can use the money to pay expenses such as household bills, food, personal items and residential accommodation charges. An appointee should be someone who is regularly in contact with the client and could be a close relative or friend.
You can also choose the ask a friend or family member to manage your affairs for you, this is called a Power of Attorney, more information can be found on the Power of Attorney.
Where a client has no one who can take this on, it is possible in certain circumstances for an officer of the Council to become appointee.
Visit the Money Carer Foundation website for more information and guidance.
You may also find the following pages within this website useful: Power of Attorney.
Making your own decisions is called having mental capacity and every day we make decisions about lots of things in our lives.
Some people find making decisions difficult either all of the time or some of the time. This may be due to;
- a learning disability
- a mental health issue
- a brain injury or a stroke
The Mental Capacity Act came into force in October 2007 to protect people over 16 who find it difficult to make decisions due to a learning disability or a mental health condition, or for any other reason. It helps people make decisions for themselves and affects people’s families and carers. The Mental Capacity Act could affect a lot of different decisions for example money matters, medical treatment and social care.
When someone is no longer able to decide, the Act intends to protect people who lose the capacity to make their own decisions. Specifically, it:
- allows the person, while they are able to do so, to appoint someone - for example a trusted relative or friend - to make decisions on their behalf once they lose the ability to do so themselves. This includes decisions on the person's health and personal welfare. Previously, the law only covered financial matters.
- provides a checklist for decision makers. This ensures that decisions are in the best interests of the person on whose behalf they are made.
- introduces a Code of Practice for people such as healthcare workers who support people who have lost the capacity to make their own decisions.
People with no one to act for them will also be able to leave instructions for their care under the new provisions.
You can read more about the Mental Capacity Act on the Gov.UK website and also read more about The Court of Protection, Lasting Power of Attorney and the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate.