If you care for someone else there may come a time when you have to manage their affairs – this means making important decisions for them.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 aims to protect people aged 16 and over who are unable to make certain decisions for themselves, perhaps due to learning disabilities, mental health problems or because of an illness such as dementia.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 enables people to choose someone to manage their finances and property if they can no longer do it themselves and also to make health and welfare decisions for them.
This needs to be carefully though about and the best way to do this is to plan for the future by drawing up a legal agreement known as a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA):
- Property and Affairs LPA – this enables you to make decisions on someone else's behalf about their property and affairs when they are no longer able to do so. This can include paying bills, managing a bank account or selling property.
- Personal Welfare LPA – this enables you to make decisions on someone else's behalf about their health and personal welfare, such as giving consent to medical treatment or deciding where they should live.
Anyone aged 18 or over with the capacity to do so can make a LPA and can appoint one or more attorneys to act in their best interest and consider their needs and wishes as far as possible.
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) supports and promotes decision making for those who lack capacity or would like to plan for their future. They can advise how to prepare a LPA which will need to be registered with them before it can be used. There is a cost for this service.
You should be aware that a LPA is a powerful and important legal document and you may wish to seek legal advice from a solicitor with experience of preparing them. There are likely to be costs involved for this work.
Becoming an appointee for someone claiming benefits
You can apply to support someone in receipt if benefits to manage their money, if they are severely mentally incapable or severely disabled. An appointee can be
- a friend
- a relative
- a solicitor
- a Council
An appointee is able to manage a person’s income and benefits and ensure that essential bills are paid.
Responsibilities of an appointee
As an appointee you are responsible for making and maintaining any benefit claims, you must:
- sign the benefit claim form
- tell the benefit office any changes which effect how much the claimant gets
- spend the benefit (that is paid to you) in the clients best interest
- tell the benefit office if you stop being the appointee e.g. the claimant can now manage their own affairs
How to apply
Contact the Department for Work and Pensions directly to apply to become an appointee.
If there is no other suitable person to take on the appointeeship role then we can discuss other options with you , one of which is a council managed appointeeship, this service has a strict eligibility criteria. You will need to call our adult social care advice and information team for more information
Deputies: Making decisions for someone who lacks capacity
You can apply to become someone’s deputy if they "lack mental capacity"- this means they can’t make a decision for themselves at the time it needs to be made. They may still be able to make decisions for themselves at certain times.
People may lack mental capacity because, for example:
- they’ve had a serious illness or brain injury
- they have dementia
- they have a severe learning disability
As a deputy, you’ll be authorised by the court of protection to make decisions on their behalf.
There are 2 types of deputy:
- property and financial affairs eg paying bills, organising a pension and financial affairs
- personal welfare eg making decisions about medical treatment and how someone is looked after
You can apply to become just one type of deputy or both. If you’re appointed you’ll get a court order saying what you can and can’t do.
Who can become a deputy?
- 18 years or older
- Close relative or friend of the person who needs help making a decision
- The court can appoint up to two suitable people
In some circumstances, where a client has eligibility to receive services from Lewisham adult social care and has difficulties in managing their finances.
The client money management team can consider an application to become a person’s deputy. This is normally when there is no other suitable individual or organisation to apply on the persons behalf.
How to apply
You will need to apply directly to the Court of Protection to become a deputy.
If there is no other suitable person to take on the deputy role then we can discuss other options with you, one of which is a council managed deputyship, this service has a strict eligibility criteria. You will need to call our adult social care advice and information team for more information.