The Mental Capacity Act 2005
Lasting power of attorney
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 enables people to plan ahead for a time when they may lose the capacity to make decisions for themselves.
The Act allows you to appoint people to make decisions for you in the event that you are not able to make them for yourself. This is called a lasting power of attorney and the people you appoint are called attorneys.
You must be 18 or over and have mental capacity – the ability to make your own decisions – in order to appoint an attorney. To appoint an attorney will provide you with more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and can’t make decisions at the time they need to be made (you ‘lack mental capacity’).
There are 2 different types of lasting power of attorney. One is for decisions about property and finance, for example managing your bank account and paying your bills. The other type is for personal welfare decisions such as consenting to medical treatment or where you will live.
The attorney’s role is to make decisions on your behalf and in your best interest. Any decision they make is legally considered as valid as a decision made by you.
You should always think carefully before choosing someone to act as your attorney – they should be trustworthy, competent and reliable, and should have the skills and ability to carry out the necessary tasks.
The lasting power of attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before your attorney can make any decisions on your behalf.
Health and social care professionals can use the register to check the status of anyone who says they are your attorney.
The government has more useful information about the Mental Capacity Act and who can make decisions for you if you cannot.
Age UK have produced information about Lasting Power of Attorney.