You may find yourself in a position where you have to make decisions either for yourself or on behalf of a loved one. Or you may want to plan ahead in case you are unable to make decisions in the future. The sections below provide information on the types of decisions and how these can be managed, as well as your rights and the rights of the person you care for.
The Mental Capacity Act makes provisions for such decision making. Please take a look at the information provided by the Office of the Public Guardian who protect people in England and Wales who may not have the mental capacity to make certain decisions for themselves, such as about their health and finance.
An Advance Decision is a legally binding decision which gives you the opportunity to make decisions regarding specific treatment that you may or may not wish to receive. This can include a refusal to receive medical treatment should the need arise at some point in the future. They are legally binding as long as they fulfil certain requirements.
You can also make an Advance Statement which gives you an opportunity to express your views and wishes for the future. This can be via a written statement or can be made verbally. An Advance Statement differs from an Advance Decision as it is not legally binding but should be taken into account by health and social care workers. An Advance Statement can include any dietary preferences or religious or cultural arrangements, as well as the type of care you would like to receive and where you wish to live.
Both can be made by anyone who can make an informed choice.
You can also consider appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney to act in your best interests should this become necessary in the future.
Appointeeships, Lasting Power of Attorney and Deputyships
If a person is no longer capable, is unable or no longer wishes to manage their own finances, there are a number of options available to allow another person to assist. Dependent on the circumstances, they can either appoint an Appointee, grant powers under a Lasting Power of Attorney or, if someone has lost capacity a third party would need to apply to be a Deputy to take over the responsibility.
An Appointee is only responsible for managing a small and limited amount of savings, paying bills and managing a person's benefits. An appointeeship is more appropriate if the person has very small assets and is in receipt of benefits.
A Deputy is responsible for managing all of a person's financial affairs; this includes all income, savings, investments, pensions or assets including any property and valuables. This option is more appropriate if the person's financial affairs are more complicated and they are not in receipt of benefits.
You need to apply to the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) to become an appointee. Please visit the government's website GOV.UK for information on how to Become an appointee for someone claiming benefits.
To become a deputy you need to apply to the Court of Protection. Please visit the government's website GOV.UK for more information on becoming a Deputy.
Lasting Power of Attorney
If you think you may need someone to act in your best interests you can appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This is someone you've given written authorisation to represent you or act on your behalf should you need to. You must make such a decision before you lose capacity. You must also register the LPA for it to take effect.
There are two types of LPA and you can choose to make one type, or both.
A property and financial affairs LPA is for decisions about finances, such as:
- Managing a bank or building society account
- Paying bills
- Collecting benefits or a pension
- Selling your home
A health and welfare LPA is for decisions about both health and personal welfare, such as:
- Your daily routine, for example, washing, dressing, eating
- Medical care
- Moving into a care home
- Life-sustaining treatment
If someone has not planned ahead and not appointed an LPA and becomes unable to make decisions, the situation must be referred to the Court of Protection.