If you or a family member have significant care needs you may want to plan for the future to ensure that any decisions will be made in their best interests.

There are various types of legal authority that can be granted depending on the type of decisions that need to be made and the circumstances of the individual.

You can find out more information about giving someone power of attorney or applying for a deputyship or appointee-ship in the following sections on this page.

Further information is also available on GOV.UK and the Which? website.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. If you want someone else to make decisions for you

Granting power of attorney gives someone permission to make certain decisions around finance or welfare on your behalf.

To grant someone power of attorney you must be capable of making decisions under the Mental Capacity Act.

If you don't have a deputy or power of attorney in place, then decisions around your welfare may have to go to the Court of Protection.

However, issues that go to the Court of Protection can take a while to resolve and this can delay decisions around your care.

The Court of Protection can help determine whether someone has the ability to make decisions for themselves. This helps protect peoples’ rights and also protects vulnerable people if their care needs are not being met.

If someone is deemed as unable to make decisions for themselves then the Court of Protection will make the decision for them with their best interests in mind.

Power of attorney

There are two different types of lasting power of attorney that can be granted.

  • health and welfare lasting power of attorney – this gives someone the authority to make decisions about your health and welfare, such as what medical care you receive. A health and welfare lasting power of attorney can only make decisions for you if you lack the mental capacity to make them yourself.
  • property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney – this gives someone the authority to make decisions about your property and finances, such as what benefits you claim. A health and welfare lasting power of attorney can make decisions as soon as they are registered as the attorney.

2. The Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act is a law which protects vulnerable people and determines whether they are capable of making decisions for themselves.

Under the Act, all of the following capabilities are necessary to be classified as having ‘mental capacity’.

Being able to:

  • understand information given to you.
  • retain information for long enough to make decisions.
  • judge information to make decisions
  • communicate decisions through any means.

If someone has dementia or a severe brain injury, then they may be classed as lacking mental capacity.

Find out more about the Mental Capacity Act on the NHS website.

3. Becoming a deputy or appointee

You can apply to be the deputy or appointee of a close friend or family member if they don't have the mental capacity to make their own decisions.

Becoming a deputy

As someone’s deputy you can make decisions over someone’s finances or personal welfare.

You can apply to be someone’s property and financial affairs deputy to make decisions over things such as their pension or property. If you are someone’s property and finance deputy you must keep a record of the way that you manage their finances and keep your own property and finances separate.

You can also apply to be a personal welfare deputy which gives you authority to make decision over the medical treatment that they receive. As their deputy, any decisions you make on someone’s behalf must be in their best interests.

Becoming an appointee

As someone’s appointee you can receive and manage their benefits to make sure that they are spent in the person’s best interests.

If you would like an appointee but don't have a suitable family member or friend, we can also apply to be your appointee to ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to and to manage your finances.

You can find further information about appointing power of attorney on GOV.UK or the Citizen’s Advice website.