If someone close to you loses the mental capacity to make their own decisions about money, health or social care, there are ways you can manage these matters in their best interest.
It's a good idea to make plans before you or a relative reaches this point as it is much more complex and takes longer to arrange to take over someone else's affairs once they have lost mental capacity to decide for themselves.
The main ways in which you can manage someone's affairs are:
- Managing bank and building society accounts - you would normally arrange this through the person's bank or building society
- Managing benefits and pensions - if this amounts to more than simply collecting benefits or payments then the organisation that pays the benefit or pension (often the DWP) should be contacted
- Power of attorney - when someone makes a power of attorney, they appoint someone to act on their behalf, giving them legal authority to deal with third parties. There are different types of power of attorney. You can do this yourself or use a professional such as a solicitor
The person you're supporting must have mental capacity and agree to this arrangement before it can be used
Once the person has lost their mental capacity, it's no longer possible to make a power of attorney. For more information about what being a Power of Attorney involves, please see Power of attorney.
Once a person has lost their mental capacity, you can't put a Power of Attorney in place and you will need to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed Deputy.
You can apply to the Court of Protection for a decision to be made on a particular matter. If there is a long term need to make decisions on the person's behalf, you can ask the Court of Protection to appoint you as a deputy.
A deputy is usually a family member or someone who knows the person well. A deputy can make decisions about someone's personal welfare, property and financial affairs.
If there's no friend or family member who is suitable or willing to act as a deputy, the Court of Protection can appoint a professional from a panel.
For further information about these issues please see:
We would encourage anyone exploring this to seek legal advice. A good place to start is Solicitors for the Elderly - an independent, national organisation of lawyers who provide specialist legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.