The law protects people aged 16 and over who are unable to make important decisions for themselves – for example, due to learning disabilities, mental health problems or because of an illness such as dementia.
If you become incapable of managing your finance and property, or making decisions about your health and welfare, you can choose someone to do it for you.
This needs to be thought out carefully. The best way to plan for the future by making a legal agreement known as a lasting power of attorney (LPA).
Lasting power of attorney (LPA)
Anyone aged 18 or over, with the capacity to do so, can make a LPA to appoint one or more attorneys who will:
- act in their best interest
- consider their needs and wishes, as far as possible
There are 2 types of LPA that you can arrange so someone else can make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so. These are:
Property and affairs LPA – for decisions about your property and affairs, such as paying bills, managing a bank account or selling property
Personal welfare LPA – for decisions about your health and personal welfare, such as giving consent to medical treatment or deciding where you should live
Preparing your lasting power of attorney
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) – under the government's Ministry of Justice – can give you information and advice on how to prepare a LPA.
You can prepare your lasting power of attorney online or by downloading forms. Go to:
The LPA must be registered with the OPG before it can be used. There may be a cost for this.
The LPA is a powerful document and you may wish to get legal advice from a solicitor who has experience of preparing them – there are likely to be costs involved for this work.
Lasting power of attorney (LPA) replaced enduring power of attorney (EPA) in October 2007 – an existing EPA remains valid as long as it was signed before October 2007 while the person was still able to make decisions for themselves.
Appointee and Court of Protection
If someone lacks capacity to make decisions then an appointee or deputy can be appointed.
The appointee is appointed by the government's Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to manage state benefits only. Go to GOV.UK: become an appointee for someone claiming benefits.
A deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection to manage all property and affairs, and to make welfare decisions. Go to: GOV.UK: deputies – make decisions for someone who lacks capacity